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  • The airports sector continued to maintain its double digit growth trajectory in the past year. While passenger traffic grew at 18 per cent in 2016-17, cargo traffic grew by about 10 per cent. The growth momentum has been sustained during the first half of 2017-18 as well, with a 15 per cent increase in both passenger and cargo traffic.

  • In March 2017, the government moved a big step forward with its plans for regional connectivity. About 128 routes were awarded under the first round of the Regional Connectivity Scheme to Alliance Air, SpiceJet, Turbo Megha, Air Odisha and Air Deccan.

  • However, to cope with the rising traffic levels, the sector needs to focus on enhancing capacity at airports. At present, the metro airports in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai are at high risk of saturation. In addition, many of the smaller airports such as Dehradun, Jaipur, Lucknow and Trichy are operating beyond their designed capacity.

  • The Airports Authority of India (AAI) recognises this fact and is doing its bit to augment capacity. Recently, new terminal buildings were inaugurated at the Vadodara, Jammu, Vijayawada and Cochin airports. The government approved the expansion plan for Chennai airport. Plans are also in place to undertake development works at Lucknow, Deoghar, Rajkot and Allahabad airports, among others.

  • Besides, plans for developing some greenfield airports have finally moved forward. The Navi Mumbai airport was awarded after a delay of almost 15 years. Mopa airport also achieved financial closure. However, critical issues such as a reduction in taxes on aviation turbine fuel, airport charges, coordinated clearances, etc. remain unaddressed.

  • There is, moreover, a greater need to focus on the operations and maintenance (O&M) of airports. O&M contracts for Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports are yet to be awarded.

  • Going forward, AAI plans to spend about Rs 175 billion for the development of greenfield airports, new civil enclaves and cargo terminals by 2020. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has also approved a proposal to revive 50 unserved/under-served airports/airstrips by 2019-20.

  • Meanwhile, airport developers are taking steps to monetise city-side assets to generate an additional stream of non-aeronautical revenue. To capitalise on its huge land holdings, AAI has begun the process of identifying airports for city-side development.

  • On the cargo front, AAI has incorporated AAI Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company Limited to focus on infrastructure development and better manage operations. Recently, cargo facilities were commissioned at the Ranchi, Goa and Srinagar airports, and a new cargo terminal was inaugurated at Mumbai airport.

  • Increased attention is also being paid to introduce new technologies to optimally use the existing space and enhance passenger facilitation at airports. AAI is implementing the baggage reconciliation system for facilitating faster baggage handling at all major airports. Besides, GPS-aided geo-augmented navigation (GAGAN) and central air traffic flow management systems have been put in place for enhanced navigation and safety.

  • The mission of this conference is to highlight the recent trends and developments in the airports sector, examine the new opportunities, and analyse the impact of recent policy and regulatory initiatives. It will also showcase the latest innovations, most promising technologies and noteworthy projects.

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