Continued Efforts: AAI initiatives to improve infrastructure and add capacity

AAI initiatives to improve infrastructure and add capacity

Airport development in India primarily comes under the purview of the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Of India’s 134 airports, AAI manages 125, of which 94 are operational. Further, AAI is involved in the Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Nagpur and Chandigarh airports under joint ventures with state and private players. In addition, the authority is solely responsible for managing air navigational services (ANS) over the entire Indian airspace.

Snapshot of current infrastructure

At present, India is the ninth largest aviation market in the world and is likely to be the third largest by 2020. Passenger handling capacity at Indian airports has increased from 72 million passengers per annum (mppa) in 2006 to 223 mppa in 2016. During the same time frame, cargo handling capacity increased from 0.5 million tonnes (mt) to 3 mt. The capacity increase has partially been a result of an increase in the number of operational airports, which have increased from 50 to 94 over the past few years. AAI has developed over 60 airports over the past decade in state capitals, places of tourist interest and in places with specific catchment areas such as medical tourism.

At present, scheduled air services are available to/from 78 airports and Indian airports are connected by 87 foreign airlines from 49 countries. Air connectivity is available from 26 states and four union territories, while 17 state capitals have direct air connectivity to New Delhi.

Key infrastructure developments

AAI has developed Kolkata and Chennai airports, both together adding a capacity of 35 mppa. Kolkata airport was developed at an investment of Rs 20.25 billion while Chennai airport required an investment of Rs 23.25 billion.

In addition, AAI is responsible for the construction of 35 non-metro airports, which will add a capacity of 58 mppa. Of these, 34 have been completed, at an investment of Rs 50 billion, while one is in progress. Apart from these, AAI has also developed 15 smaller/regional airports at an investment of Rs 20 billion. Another eight such airports are currently being developed.

During 2016, AAI inaugurated new terminal buildings for airports at Khajuraho, Bathinda and Vijayawada; laid foundation stones for new terminals at the Gorakhpur and Adampur civil enclaves; and began runway expansion work at Rajahmundry and Vijayawada airports.

Other key developments in 2016 included the creation of AAI Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company (AAICLAS), a fully owned subsidiary of AAI, and the commissioning of CAT III B instrument landing systems at Jaipur and Lucknow airports. Set up in October 2016, AAICLAS is expected to become one of the foremost integrated logistics network operators in the country with the primary focus of handling air cargo and allied services. Although a wholly owned subsidiary of AAI, AAICLAS is functionally and administratively independent. It will provide ground handling, documentation, transport services for carriage of bonded and non-bonded cargo and screening services and related value- added services at airports in India and abroad. The company expects a turnover of Rs 3.8 billion by 2018.

Future plans

To address capacity constraints at airports, AAI has drawn up a comprehensive infrastructure development plan with a capital expenditure outlay of Rs 17.5 billion for the next five years. The plan covers the development of one greenfield airport, new terminal buildings at 15 airports, expansion of passenger terminals at 10 airports, new civil enclaves at seven airports, runway and airside works at 17 airports, cityside development at eight airports, domestic cargo terminals at 24 airports, new air traffic control towers at 17 airports, seven airports in Bihar under the prime minister’s package of Rs 27 billion to the state; and ANS infrastructure such as radars, air traffic flow management, GAGAN expansion, automation, etc. Also with the launch of the Regional Connectivity Scheme, AAI will focus on developing smaller unused airports and airstrips, further improving air connectivity.

In conclusion, while challenges remain in terms of achieving international standards, improving operational efficiencies and augmenting non-aeronautical revenues, AAI is detremined to better the state of airports and air connectivity in the country through planned steps forward. w

Based on a presentation by Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra, Chairman, AAI, at a recent India Infrastructure conference