The current situation arising out of coronavirus is a challenge, especially for the civil aviation sector.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said coronavirus scare may lead to a 15% -20% drop in domestic air traffic, while stressing that India would overcome the challenge and see robust growth in the civil aviation sector. The current challenges in the sector can be converted into opportunities as the aviation industry has ushered in an era of expansion, driven by factors such as low cost carriers (LCCs), modern airports, FDI in domestic airlines, usage of advanced IT systems and growing emphasis on regional connectivity.
“There may be about 15-20% drop in domestic air traffic due to the coronavirus outbreak, but it will soon be business as usual,’’ he said at the Wings 2020 aviation conference in Hyderabad. “We are at a point where we need to bring aviation turbine fuel (ATF) cost, which forms 40% of the operating cost for an airline, under GST and, by and large, there is acknowledgment from across states to make it happen,” he said.
Puri said India was well on course to become third-largest civil aviation market. While the number of air passengers handled by the country is likely to go up from the current 345 million per annum to one billion by 2030, with the kind of penetration and double-digit growth, the aviation industry can achieve the target much before 2030, may be by 2024-25, he said.
The current situation arising out of coronavirus is a challenge, especially for the civil aviation sector. “Within hours of the first evidence becoming available, we had started screening passengers coming in from 12 most affected countries. We increased it to include screening of passengers coming in from any country across the world. Our airports constitute a benchmark for how airports should be running across the globe, specially the 30 airports where proper screening is already in place. We have screened 10,876 flights coming in from across the globe that include 11,71,061 passengers, 3,225 of these passengers required further screening. We will not only overcome this challenge, but will see robust and vibrant growth in the civil aviation sector,” he added.
He said so far nearly 12 lakh passengers coming from abroad have been screened for coronavirus at various airports across the country. Of over 11 lakh passengers screened at 30 airports, only 3,225 were referred to tests, he added. Indian airports have set up a benchmark for other countries in terms of taking precautionary measures such as screening and making facilities available at aerodromes in the wake of the virus outbreak, Puri said.