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'Aviation should handle 40 pc of global trade'

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, May 14: The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) said that capacity of Indian airports to handle foreign trade in value terms, should be increased to 40 per cent of total trade from the present level of 30 per cent.

''At a time when zero or minimum inventories are buzzwords across the corporate world, India has to create strong physical infrastructure to empower the trade and industry to export and import consignments with minimum gestation period,'' said Mr Vivek Lall, chairman of the IACC's national committee on civil aviation and aerospace committee who is also managing director of Boeing India's commercial airplanes division.

''That is possible only when a strong network of airports are created to serve both the domestic and international market.'' Complimenting the government for giving a right focus on aviation sector in recent days, Mr Lall said there are over 80 small and large airports that require immediate modernisation. Also, a few more greenfield airports should be set up.

This will have a multiplier effect on the aviation sector in particular and economy in general. Positive spinoffs of these investments are not only the capacity building for more traffic handling -- both passenger and cargo -- but also creating a pan-India appeal for tourism development in the country. In its wake, the backward and forward linkages of aviation sector will generate millions of gainful employment in the country. IACC said the total resource requirements airport modernisation and creation of greenfield airports will be upwards of 10 billion dollars over a period of five years.

Innovative funding matrices should be drawn up to plug the resource gap and to reverse the legacy of under-investment in the aviation sector. Private-public partnership hold the key to implementation of such projects in a time bound manner and to tied down huge resource requirement.

Already, there are instances of private-public partnerships for modernisation of airports in Mumbai and Delhi and also for creation of greenfield airport in Hyderabad. ''What we should focus is multiplication of such success stories to over 80 airports that require modernisation or to be set up as greenfield projects,'' said Mr Lall.

The recent umbrella agreement approved by the cabinet and due to be signed between India and the United States can give a critical push to cooperation between the two countries in aviation sector.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can also cooperate with the civil aviation ministry and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for financing and implementing infrastructure projects.


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