Infrastructure

Air traffic to bounce back to normalcy in 2-3 months: Aviation secretary

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New Delhi: India’s domestic civil aviation sector is expected to bounce back to normalcy in the next two to three months, civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said on Thursday.

Speaking at a webinar organized by industry body Ficci, Kharola said that the country’s civil aviation sector has proved to be resilient during the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.

“Civil aviation is one of the sectors which have come out of the pandemic, though still struggling…….but in the next two to three months at least domestic aviation will be back to normal,” Kharola said.

Domestic air passenger traffic grew 20% sequentially during November, but the passenger traffic was still 51% lower compared to November 2019, according to the latest data from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

As things stand, Indian airlines are currently allowed to operate upto 80% of their pre-covid capacity.

“Big countries like India, which have a huge domestic market, is where the future of aviation lies,” Kharola added.

India’s air passenger traffic is expected to rebound in the next fiscal year though it will widely lag the levels seen in FY16, credit rating agency Icra said in a recent report adding that the recovery of domestic traffic is expected to be earlier than international.

“If a vaccine is launched earlier with reasonable availability, domestic air passenger traffic could witness a further upside in FY22, with an estimated growth of about 93%, and international air passenger traffic could witness an estimated growth of about 235%,” the Icra report added.

Kharola said that Indian aviation sector could look to grow from component manufacturing in the coming years, which would need to be strengthened and expanded.

“This sector can grow incrementally and modularly. If we have a large number of components being manufactured in India, the graduation to aircraft manufacturing (in India) will be an easy task,” he added.

Meanwhile, 2021 could present the civil aviation sector with a new set of challenges in spheres of engineering, manufacturing, changes on taxation, financing and regulations, said Remi Maillard, chairman, Ficcis’s civil aviation committee, also president and managing director of Airbus India.

“Make in India doesn’t mean copy pasting abilities that exist elsewhere, which will make little sense in a global market that is shrinking,” Maillard said.

“Ambition shouldn’t be (only) to develop MRO and manufacturing capabilities in India, but India should take active part in the development of next generation aircraft,” he added.

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