Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha Thursday said that the number of passenger trips in the country has doubled in the past four years. Claiming that the aviation industry has been one of the great success stories of the government, he said that flying has been made affordable for all since 2014.
Sinha was in Mumbai to inaugurate an apprentice program, funded by aircraft company Boeing, which will train 25 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AME) in Air India Engineering Service Limited (AIESL) office at Mumbai’s Kalina airport.
“The aviation industry is one of the great success stories of our government. In the past four years, we have doubled the number of passenger trips. As Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu had said that more people are flying as compared to taking air-conditioned trains. Some of the measures include introducing the national civil aviation policy, measures undertaken to ease business, generating rapid responses for consumers,” Sinha said.
In 2013, the total number of passenger trips was about 100 million, according to Sinha, which has doubled to 200 million in 2017.
Sinha added, “All of the above measures have ensured that 200 million passenger trips a year, which we estimate could turn into a billion trips annually, 15-20 years down the line. India is also the third largest domestic aviation market in the world. Along with doubling traffic, we have improved the passenger quality, both in terms of airport and airline experience. The draft passenger charter has been formulated to strengthen passenger rights, which we would finalise very soon,” Sinha added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday inaugurated service from Raipur to Jagdalpur in Chhatisgarh under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). Saying how Jagdalpur, Bastar is one of the remotest locations to be connected under the scheme, Sinha said, “Today, we have inaugurated the 29th airport under the RCS scheme. We are solving the human need in the hinterland to be connected to Raipur, and thus be connected to the world. Personally, it is a delight for me to go to a city like Jagdalpur, Allahabad, Ludhiana, Pathankot, Bikaner and watch the smile on the faces of people when they are connected to the aviation network.” To increase the number of passenger trips, Sinha said that more drones, helicopters, sea planes and ATR aircraft will fly. India already has an order of 1,000 planes, including 550 commercial aircraft to be purchased. At Kalina airport, the one-year course is expected to give students hands-on practice in maintaining aircraft. Boeing has funded at least $50,000 for the equipment required per student attending this course.
“It is a free course for students now. We expect to continue taking these courses in the future which will be charged,” Pratyush Kumar president, Boeing, India said.
“For every plane, we need 7 AMEs so for the 1,000 planes India is set to procure, we will need 7,000 trained AMEs in another decade. We hope to have a network of these apprenticeship centers around the country which can trains hundreds of apprentices a year. Such centers will also be planned for pilots so that they can get their commercial pilot license efficiently,” Sinha said.