Daily domestic air passenger traffic has crossed the pre-Covid high and is set to soar, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told FE on Friday. According to him, the country’s air travel growth is going to double in the next 4-5 years. “Today, we have 200 million travellers (domestic and international). In the next four to five years, I look at this number going to about 400 million. This means that the sector will see an explosive growth in the next four to five years,” Scindia said.
He said that the all-time high growth in the daily domestic passenger traffic is not a ‘blip’, but quite reassuring as it has happened during an off season — March. The airlines are now operating at 80-90% load factor.
Indian carriers have placed 1,200 aircraft on order, which includes 470 by Air India and 490 by IndiGo. More orders are likely to be placed by the end of this year.
Scindia said that with the government’s focus on creating critical infrastructure such as airports, heliports and waterdromes, air passenger traffic will be on growth trajectory in the days to come. “If you look at daily passenger numbers, the all time high during pre-Covid was roughly 420,000 passengers per day. Now we have crossed 455,000 passengers per day, that too in an off-season since we are in the end of March and before the beginning of the summer season,” he said.
The minister said that the focus of the government is on creation of more airports at a faster pace. “In the first 65 years of independence, we built 74 airports and in just the last nine years, we have built an additional 74 airports, waterdromes and heliports,” Scindia said. “We have doubled the number in nine years over what was constructed in the first 65 years. We have gone from 74 to 148,” he added.
He said that the number of airports would go up from the current 148 to roughly around 200 in the next four to five years.
Scindia further said the capex planned for airports in the next 4-5 years is around `98,000 crore and this would include both greenfield and brownfield ones. Of this, around Rs 25,000 crore would be from the Airports Authority of India and Rs 22,000 crore for the expansion of airports and building of new terminals.