The country is likely to have 855 million air travellers in 2030-31, the government told Parliament today. The figure indicates a three-fold increase in the number of air travellers which was 265 million in 2016-2017. The growth in air traffic over a period of around 15 years will also be more than double the existing passenger handling capacity of airports in the country, which is at 334 million, as per the data shared by the government. “The available capacity at Indian airports is 334 million passengers per annum against 265 million passengers handled in 2016-2017 and the traffic forecast for 2030-31 is 855 million passengers,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in the Lok Sabha in response to a question.
In the Budget announcement last week, the government had proposed to enhance airport capacity to more than five times to handle a billion trips a year under a new initiative –NABH (NextGen Airports for Bharat) Nirman. Sinha, last week during a media interaction, had said that a framework will be developed for the next 15 to 20 years. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) will leverage its balance sheet and raise more funds in order to achieve capacity enhancement. The AAI will also exercise various options including bank financing, masala bonds and external commercial borrowing.