India to release new aviation strategy by summer

By early summer,  The Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation will release a new, 10-year aviation policy that addresses private-sector investments and will emphasize air cargo developments. Ministry Secretary Nasim Zaidi announced the prospective policy at the Air Cargo as Engine of Economic Growth conference in New Delhi.

According to the Airports Authority of India, 10 percent annual growth in the aviation sector is expected for the next five years. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India peg current GDP growth at 8 percent annually and air-cargo annual growth at 12 percent.

At the conference, Zaidi also said the airports in Mumbai (pictured) and Chennai will soon sport new airfreight stations. These developments will help handle the expected growth, which will certainly rise from the 2.33 million tonnes of cargo airports handled in 2010. Domestic cargo figures are projected to ascend by 0.8 million tonnes by 2017, with international traffic increasing by 1.5 million tonnes in the next five years.

“We need to decongest cargo terminals with simplification of Customs procedures, greater use of mechanized handling, and speedy clearances of shipments,” Zaidi said. “India has the potential to emerge as a global trans-shipment hub.”

In an interview with Air Cargo World, Lisa Victoria Waller, vice president of BDG International, said that China is likely to be a major driver of this increase in Indian cargo traffic. This flow would consist mainly of electronic parts. Routings from the U.S. to India could involve shipments of chemical components that would be mixed into their final form in India.

Waller has recently seen massive improvement in Indian aviation infrastructure, and she said this is due to the privatization of the airports. “By doing that, they were able to reconstruct the majority of the airports and bring them up to conditions that we need in today’s day and age,” she told Air Cargo World. “The Indian government knows that they are better off privatizing than trying to manage [the airports] themselves.”

So much has changed in the past five years, she said, there’s no telling what could happen in the next five. The proposed plan will evolve over the next decade, and by then, India could truly be a major player in the aviation game.

“In India, the changes are night and day. Today you don’t have a service you want, and tomorrow you do,” she said. “That’s the cool part about India. As long as they’re at this consistent clip of improvement, I think that in the next five years you’re going to see a major difference in the air services out of India.”

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