India remains on high growth trajectory, says Gittens

04 February 2019
Angela Gittens, ACI World Director General, spoke to Jane’s in January during the Global Aviation Summit in Mumbai. Source: Neelam Mathews

Indian efforts to grow its aviation infrastructure have been boosted by the 2016 National Civil Aviation Policy but challenges persist, Airports Council International (ACI) World Director General Angela Gittens told Jane’s in an exclusive interview.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Global Aviation Summit in Mumbai, Gittens urged Indian airports to focus on “accommodating growth and securing sustainable and good customer service”.

In its Vision 2040 document released in January, the Ministry of Civil Aviation predicts passenger volume at Indian airports to rise from 187 million in 2018 to more than 1.12 billion in 2040. The government therefore recognises the need for long-term aviation infrastructure development, but it must also battle near-term constraints. Gittens noted efforts “to fill the gaps”, including privatisation of six airports. “Many of us were looking at India punching below its weight. It has a large population, is a big country, and wasn’t doing much for the aviation sector. That has all changed,” she added.

Several Indian efforts have improved their scores in the ACI Airport Service Quality (ASQ) programme, which benchmarks performance across a range of passenger service metrics. The Indian experience can guide airport authorities in other South Asian countries. “Seeing India step up gives them a model to follow”, said Gittens, adding that airport privatistion “has proven its value” in India.

“For India to cope with surging demand in air transport, a clear plan for building critical aviation infrastructure is required. With that in mind, it is good to see that the Indian government has moved to undertake a second phase of privatisation…. The private sector can act faster because demand is growing fast.”

She noted that, in a country of 1.4 billion, even a slight increase in air travel demand will have a noticeable effect. Today, only 3% of the Indian population use airlines, but “add 1% and that is 15 million more who will fly”.

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