"The challenge is to cope with increasing traffic, increasing connectivity and the need to attain higher level of efficiency along with enhanced safety," said Rao, who was sworn in as the Governor of the state last month. "Air traffic management has become an urgent issue to be addressed at the metro airports," he said.
Rao was addressing a seminar to kick-off the 50 years celebration of ATC Guild of India here. There are 2,345 air traffic controllers manning the domestic skies at present, the Guild said. Rao said there are 5,100 arrivals and departures per day at the country's airports and in addition, the ATC also has to maintain a surveillance over 1,600 flights which pass the Indian airspace.
"With air travel coming within the reach of the middle class, the number of airline travellers is bound to increase significantly in the years to come. That explains the importance of your role and challenges before you in ensuring the safety of the flights and fliers," he said, addressing the ATC personnel.
Stressing on the need to increase connectivity, he said while there are around 450 airfields in the country, only 95 airports are connected through flights. And even within these, the six metros account for 70 per cent of the traffic.
"This has led to congestion at metro airports with consequent traffic delay, high fuel consumption, high pollution," he said. Rao also underscored the need to encourage leadership skills among the ATC and have a set of creative leaders. The Governor, who also oversees all the universities in the state as the Chancellor, appealed the guild to work with the varsities and start air traffic management related programmes.