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Worries, hopes at the flight deck

HT Mint; 26 October 2007

The chief executives of Indian airlines are worried that infrastructure constraints will crimp India's aviation boom.

The chief executives of Indian airlines are worried that infrastructure constraints, especially at airports, will crimp India's aviation boom. This is among the findings of a CEO poll conducted by the Federation of Indian Airlines, an industry lobby group. Top representatives of local carriers also said they are concerned about current regulatory guidelines and outdated rules.

Maintaining the expectations of an average 30% growth in passengers, the respondents hoped that infrastructure constraints at airports would be addressed in the next three-five years. "Infrastructure constraints at key airports are leading to additional operating costs, such as fuel, maintenance and delayed flights. Due to infrastructure bottlenecks, planes are having 5-10% additional flying time. The impact of this is approximately $80 million (Rs316 crore) a year," said Saroj K. Datta, executive director of Jet Airways India Ltd.

According to industry estimates, Indian airlines made combined losses of $500 million in 2006-07. However, the number of passengers continues to grow on the back of low-priced air tickets. Airlines carried 35 million domestic passengers in 2006-07, up 39.5% from the corresponding period of the previous year. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, a specialized consulting firm, projects that domestic traffic will grow at 25-30% a year and cross 60 million by 2010.