Flying high into Amrit Kaal

Source– The post is based on the article “Flying high into Amrit Kaal” published in The Indian Express on 16th February 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure

Relevance– Air connectivity

News– India’s civil aviation policy is bearing fruit. It is set to reach new heights

What is the status of the civil aviation industry in India?

India is the third largest domestic civil aviation market in the world after China and the US. Domestic passengers more than doubled from 60 million in 2014 to 143 million in 2020.

There has also been a significant increase in international air passengers — from 23 million to 35 million.

Indian flight operators have a fleet size of approximately 750 aircraft. The fleet size is expected to increase rapidly.

India’s civil aviation sector  has also provided employment opportunities for engineers, trained technicians and airline service staff.

What is the UDAN scheme and its achievements?

In 2017, the Government of India started a Regional Connectivity Scheme called UDAN to make flight operations to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities commercially viable.

It approved a budget for the revival of existing unserved and underserved airports and airstrips through the Regional Connectivity Scheme.

Today, approximately 475 UDAN routes have been operationalised.

Since its inception, over 1.14 crore passengers have travelled in more than 2.16 Lakh UDAN flights. Rs 2,300 crore has been paid to selected airlines by the government as a part of the viability gap funding.

What are other steps taken by the government under civil aviation policy?

MRO sector– The growth in the country’s fleet size is positively correlated with the growth in MRO-related work.

The market size of the MRO sector in India stood at around $2 billion. It is catering to 15% of our domestic MRO work.

The government issued new MRO Guidelines to encourage MRO organisations and OEMs to set up workshops in India.

Many steps taken towards making India a global hub of MRO. It includes 100% FDI permitted via automatic route, a liberalised policy for borrowing and lending in foreign currency and Indian currency and reduction of GST from 18% to 5% with full Input Tax Credit.

Manpower1165 commercial pilot licences were issued in 2022. This is the largest number of licences over the last decade.

The need for pilots has also led to an increase in Flight Training organisations. Currently, India has 35 approved FTOs with 53 bases and an additional 10 are on the anvil.

Similarly, the number of Air Traffic Controllers has increased from a little over 2,000 in 2012 to close to 4,000 in 2022.

Drones– Last year, the government issued guidelines for Production Linked Incentives  for drones with an outlay of Rs 120 crore over three years. There has been a massive liberalisation of the drone policy under which 25 forms have been reduced to just five.

Agriculture sector– Civil aviation policy has contributed to agriculture also. The Krishi Udan Scheme is focused on transporting perishable food products of farmers from the hilly areas, north-eastern states and tribal areas.

India’s civil aviation ministry has also been instrumental in rescuing Indians and foreign nationals during emergencies.

As a part of the Vande Bharat Mission, India facilitated the travel of 1.83 crore passengers during the various COVID-19 waves. Operation Ganga rescued 22,500 Indian students from Ukraine during the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Tourism sector– The synergy between tourism and civil aviation in propagating India’s tourism potential is well-known. The Ministry of Tourism also funds more than 50 routes and has approved another 10 routes under the RCS-UDAN Scheme.

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