Boosting Aviation Infrastructure
BUSINESS ECONOMICS|September 1-15, 2019
Airports being the nuclei of myriad economic activities assume a significant role in the economy of a nation.
Aritra Mitra

The quality of airport infrastructure, which is a vital component of the overall transportation network, contributes directly to a country's international competitiveness and towards the flow of foreign investment. While cargo carried by air in India weighs less than 1% of the total cargo exported, it accounts for 35% of the total value of exports. Better cargo handling facilities lead to enhanced levels of international trade, especially of capital goods and high-value items. 97% of the country's foreign tourists arrive by air and tourism is the nation's second largest foreign exchange earner. There are 449 airports/airstrips in the country. Among these, the Airport Authorities of India (AAI) owns and manages 92 airports and 28 civil enclaves at defence airfields and provides air traffic services over the entire Indian airspace and adjoining oceanic regions. In 1996-97, these 120 airports/civil enclaves handled 3.96 lakh aircraft movements involving 243 lakh domestic and 122 lakh international passengers and two lakh metric tonnes of domestic and 4.8 lakh metric tonnes of international cargo. 52% of traffic was handled at the international airports of Mumbai and Delhi. Presently, various airlines are operating only through 61 airports. The remaining lies unutilised, at best handling occasional aircraft operations. For the 2020 fiscal, CRISIL Research expects airport passenger traffic to grow by 14-16%, compared with 15-17% growth in fiscal 2019 on account of slower domestic traffic growth. Domestic passenger traffic, which accounts for 80% of total airport passenger traffic, is expected to slow down on account of spiralling air fares.

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