Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M. Scindia on Wednesday said there is a significant expansion in India's aircraft fleet, which has gone over 700 aircraft - rising by over 100 per cent within the past nine years.
Unveiling the ongoing capital expenditure (capex) initiatives in the aviation sector, amounting to Rs 1 lakh crore, he said it is anticipated that the private sector will contribute approximately Rs 70,000 crore to this endeavor.
Addressing a press conference here, Scindia said that domestic air travel in India has soared by an astonishing 130 per cent, with an estimated annual count of 145 million passengers exploring the country's skies.
He also highlighted the positive transformations observed in Air India following its acquisition by the Tata Group, signifying a positive shift in the airline's performance and operations.
"Additionally, international passenger movement has experienced a noteworthy upswing, registering a 50 per cent surge. This surge signifies a burgeoning desire among the Indian populace for outbound travel, with approximately 70 million passengers now embarking on international journeys each year," said Scindia.
In the realm of cargo transportation, India has witnessed remarkable growth as well, he said, with a substantial 35 per cent increase in movement over the past nine years. The total cargo movement now exceeds 3.6 million tonnes (MT).
Scindia further emphasised the significant expansion of India's aircraft fleet, which has surpassed 700 aircraft, terming it "a remarkable leap of over 100 per cent within the past nine years".
Concurrently, the Indian government has dedicated considerable efforts towards enhancing airport infrastructure, leading to the construction of 11 new greenfield airports over the past nine years. Special attention has been given to the development of airports in the northeast region, resulting in the successful establishment of eight new airports in that area.
The minister also said that under the UDAN Scheme, 180 RCS airports including 25 water aerodromes and 40 helipads have been identified for operation of these flights.
"As of now, out of 1,152 valid awarded RCS routes, 475 RCS routes have been commenced connecting 74 airports including 9 heliports & 2 water aerodromed," he said.
The minister also said that under the RCS UDAN scheme, the Centre has reimbursed Rs 3,367 crore for the revival/development of RCS airports for operations of UDAN flights out of allocated budget of Rs 4,500 crore as on March 31, 2023.
"A total of 121.67 lakh passengers have travelled under RCS UDAN scheme and VGF amount of around Rs 2,585.25 crore has been released to selected airline operator as on April 11, 2023 for operation of RCS UDAN flights," he said.
Scindia further said that to enhance air connectivity from certain states of the country with select international destinations to promotesocio-economic growth, IACS has been launched.
"Under this scheme, routes have been proposed by the respective state governments which are point to point direct connectivity (non-stop) routes and hitherto non-operational. State governments are responsible for providing 100 per cent subsidy support. 13 Routes were proposed in the scheme, of which four have been awarded... that are Guwahati-Dhaka, Guwahati-Bangkok, Imphal-Mandalay, and Agartala-Chittagong," he said.
He also said that several dilapidated World War II-era airstrips, languishing in disrepair, have been brought back to life under UDAN Scheme and airports have been created around them thus giving impetus to economic activity in the region.
"Numerous such success stories stand out including that of Darbhanga, Belgavi, Jharsuguda, Rupsi, Kishangarh, Hubli, Jagdalpur, Kurnool, Pasighat airports etc," he said.
Scindia further said that the number of Flying training organisations (FTOs) in June 2016 was 29 and this number increased to 35 with 54 bases till now.
"By December, 2023, nine more bases are likely to be added, taking the number of bases to 63. One FTO and five bases have already commenced operations during 2022-23- two at Kalaburagi (Karnataka) and one each at Jalgaon (Maharashtra), Lilabari (Assam) and Khajuraho (MP)," he said.
"In 2020, Airports Authority of India (AAI) came up with a liberalised FTO policy wherein airport royalty payments (revenue share payment by FTOs to AAI) was abolished and land rentals were significantly rationalised," he further said.
"The number of Commercial Pilot Licenses (CPLs) issued by DGCA during 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021 stood at 552, 640, 744, 578, and 862 respectively. During 2022 by the number of CPLs issued by DGCA stood at 1,165 - an all-time high," Scindia claimed.
"The total number of flying hours at Indian FTOs increased from 1.22 lakh hours in the pre-Covid period (2019) to 1.58 lakh hours in 2021. During 2022 the number of flying hours further rose to 1.63 lakh," said the minister.