Air traffic to be at pre-Covid levels by Dec-end: Minister

K V Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on November 16, 2020 Published on November 16, 2020

Representational image   -  REUTERS

The Union Government expects air passenger traffic to reach pre-Covid-19 levels by December-end.

“After two months and two days of lockdown, we opened the sector on May 25 with 30,000 passengers a day. A couple of days before Diwali, we carried 2.25 lakh passengers while maintaining all safety measures,” said Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Housing and Urban Affairs.

Addressing the valedictory of the Deccan Dialogue, organised by the Indian School of Business (ISB) on Monday, he said the sector is presently operating at 70 per cent capacity. “We have asked them to increase it to 80 per cent. We hope that by the end of the year, or a week or so thereafter, we can achieve the pre-Covid level in air traffic,” he said.

Distorted models

The Minister wanted the distorted business models to be altered. “The total value of the traffic between India and the US is $7 billion. But the share of Indian carriers is just 17 per cent. It is not that the US is taking the remaining business,” he said, without mentioning the names of the carriers that are benefiting from it.

“I see no reason why the Indian carriers should not earn more share. The distorted business models need to be changed,” he said.

He said the total air traffic in the country would get a boost as it would add 100 new airports. The size of the fleet would grow to 2,000 aircraft from the present 750 aircraft “pretty quickly”.

He hinted that a development with regard to the Krishi Udaan scheme was on the anvil. The scheme, which was announced in the Budget speech by the Finance Minister, was aimed at providing air support for farmers to transport agri products.

The Minister, however, did not elaborate on the development.

The Minister said the urbanisation process was at a rapid speed in the country. “About 17 per cent of people (out of 35 crore people) used to live in urban areas at the time of independence. By 2030, about 40 per cent of the population (about 60 crore people) will live in urban areas,” he said.

“We need to create 600-800 million square metres of urban space every year. This means that we will be adding a Chicago every year,” he said.

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Published on November 16, 2020
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