With a huge growth potential forecast over the next 10 years, the Indian aviation sector is set to be catapulted among the top five in the world, President Pratibha Patil said on Monday.
"The potential for growth of civil aviation in India is huge. Recent estimates suggest domestic air traffic will touch 160-180 million passengers per annum in the next 10 years and international traffic will exceed 80 million passengers,” the president said while inaugurating the fourth International Civil Aviation Negotiation Conference (ICAN) here.
The Indian aviation market currently ranks ninth in the world.
"Aviation plays an important role in the economic development process of countries. Flying is no longer the prerogative of a few privileged but an option for an increasingly broader section of society," she said.
She pointed out that deregulation of the domestic sector and liberalisation of bilateral traffic rights in the past decade has led to multiple options in carriers, timings and fares.
"Between 2005-2010, $10 billion has been invested in airports development in the country, with public-private partnership (PPP). In next five years, we plan to expand the airport network and provide connectivity to tier II and III cities.
"In metro cities, where the existing airport cannot accommodate future growth, a second airport is being planned... Navi Mumbai is a case in example. As a policy, we will continue to build and replicate the PPP model with other airports," the president added.
She also stressed the importance of an economic regulator to create a level playing field, promote competition, protect consumer interests and ensure better service levels.
"One of the key achievements by India in the last decade has been to set up an independent regulator for economic regulation of airports by an act of parliament with appropriate provision of an appellate body," she said.
To commemorate the centenary of civil aviation in India, Patil released commemorative coins in the presence of Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan, civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi and International Civil Aviation Organisation chief Roberto Kobeh Gonzales.
Over 300 delegates from around 65 countries are attending the ICAN conference, being held for the first time in India.