Indian aviation on its way to decongestion

22 May 2018 by Neha Gupta Kapoor
Delhi flights cancelled for Republic Day preparations

Yesterday, Hindustan Times (HT) published a report on Indian airports’ capacities, based on government documents accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

It reads: “At least 25 of the 50 busiest airports in India are already operating beyond their capacity, while almost all the others will reach optimal capacity in 2018-19 with the aviation industry growing at an unanticipated 18-20 per cent every year.”

During peak hours, airports in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune function beyond or to their full capacity.

On May 2, Minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, had tweeted that the next five years will see airports in Bengaluru, Delhi and Hyderabad being upgraded.

He also posted videos of the upgraded terminals at Chennai and Lucknow airports.

“The infrastructure work should have been planned years ago. Now when the situation has reached the alarming stage, government has started expansion again. The focus should be now on new technologies such as biometric access, self-check-in to reduce congestion while the expansion work should continue alongside,” D Sudhakara Reddy, founder of the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) told HT.

By launching NABH (or NextGen Airports for Bharat) Nirman, the government aims to increase the total capacity of its airports to one billion trips per annum, which is five times the current capacity. This includes inaugurating new airports in addition to expanding current ones. Sinha announced that the initiative will require ₹3 lakh crore investments.

Work on Delhi airport’s (DIAL’s) terminal expansion is already underway. On completion in 2021, DIAL’s capacity will increase to 85 million passengers per annum. It currently has a capacity of 70 million passengers per annum. In 2017-18, it handled 65.7 million passenger traffic.

Mumbai airport (MIAL) has a capacity for handling 45 million passengers per annum and reported receiving 48.5 passenger traffic in 2017-18. Work on the Navi Mumbai terminal has begun recently and will take at least three years for completion, to take the load of MIAL.

Bangalore Airport (BIAL) is functioning at 30 per cent beyond its capacity of 20 million passengers per annum. Currently, to handle the situation, it is upgrading its infrastructure with additional check-in counters and enhancing security screening. These are just a few examples at BIAL that is turning to technology and digital initiatives to reduce congestion.

Pune, Goa and Ahmedabad are some other cities who will receive a second airport. At least six more airports will be inaugurated within the coming months taking the total number of India’s operational airports to 100.

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