Indian airports struggling to cope with growing number of passengers

Drastic increases in air passengers have made struggle for India’s airports to cope with as middle class carriers have increased in the country. Analysts have warned that to cope with this increasing numbers, billions of dollars must be spent to enhance the capacity.

Due to cheap rate and better connectivity of mid-class carriers, India has witnessed a six-fold increase in passenger numbers over the past decade. Airports in the country handled 265 million domestic passengers in 2016 and will cross 300 million this year told South Asia director at the Centre for Aviation (CAPA). According to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), an Indian regulatory body till 2008 there were just 44 million Indians travelling by plane.

CAPA predicts India will overtake Britain as the world’s third-largest market by 2025 and will have 478 million fliers by 2036 and to cope with this increasing capacity, CAPA says there is urgent need to increase the capacity of the airports. Aviation experts say that it is race against time to construct the infrastructure for the government.

Numbers of flights have increased by nearly 20% every year over last three years and travelers can sometimes get tickets as little as $15 and around 10 airports of India like Dehradun, Jaipur, Guwahati, Mangalore, Srinagar, and Pune etc. are already operating beyond their limit while other main airports like New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and Chennai’s International Airport along with Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) are also near the limit.

Mumbai’s airport broke the world record of handling the most number of arrivals and departures on a single runway in one day. Some 980 flights landed and took off within a 24-hour period.

Travelers have complained about problem of circling for up to half an hour before the plane is given a slot to land. And to increase the infrastructure also seems impossible due to slum settlement around the airport. The government is building a new airport at Navi Mumbai, 30km away, to ease the burden but has been delayed due to dispute in land acquiring and is currently scheduled to open in 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made making air travel accessible to all a key priority since his election in 2014 and has recently launched a scheme to connect remote regions of the country by air. In the budget last month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated $613 million to the Airports Authority of India to expand facilities.

CAPA predicts that India that India needs to invest $45 billion by 2030 to keep up with demand.

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