A first-of-its-kind event, Global Aviation Summit 2019, commenced with the participation of 13 transport and civil aviation ministers, 36 civil aviation authorities, 800 delegates, more than 35 exhibitors from over 80 countries across the world. The inaugural session was graced by Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra; Suresh Prabhu, minister of civil aviation and commerce and industry, GoI; Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the council ICAO; Jayant Sinha, MoS, ministry of civil aviation; R N Choubey, secretary, minister of civil aviation and Sandip Somany, president, FICCI.
The inaugural session, which was held here in Mumbai, primarily focused on the summit’s main theme of ‘Flying for all’ which touts to make air travel affordable for citizen of every class in this country. The summit, which is historical in opening a dialogue on several verticals like importance of drones, affordable air travel, use of sustainable fuels in future, infrastructural development in a compact two-day event, seeks to pave the way for greater growth in the aviation sector through better policy-framing.
The aviation industry in India has been experiencing exponential growth with the domestic aviation market growing at 20 per cent annually for the last four years. Prabhu highlighted the on the need for technology to pervade all aspects of aviation. He said that a summit of this stature is necessary to ensure collective thinking that helps in combating challenges of the aviation sector and bring about greater reforms. The rise of fuel prices has been an issue in recent times but can be dealt with through an exchange between the minds in the industry. He also said there will be zero tolerance for any safety violation and as the demand for air travel keeps rising, they need to ensure safer, sustainable and smoother trips.
Besides the ambitious plan of manufacturing indigenous drones, robust air cargo policy for greater trade and more transparent policy logistic study is also on the cards, the minister said.
With greater demand in air travel, comes the necessity to ensure sustainable flights and reduction of carbon emission, Aliu said. The ICAO president said that if the growth momentum of the Indian aviation market continues, then very soon the country is going to be the third largest aviation market in the world. He also focused on the need for better skill development of the next generation aviation professionals.
The reason behind the choice of Mumbai as the preferred destination for this summit was explained by both Prabhu and Fadnavis who spoke about the city being one of the oldest and the most dynamic. The state of Maharashtra will have nine airports connecting different parts of the country with the geographically prominent Nagpur airport being developed to connect both national and international flight routes. He said, “PM Modi’s dream of Flying for the man wearing chappals is already becoming a reality here.”
All the panelists and ministers together unveiled the Vision 2040 document which aims to have 1.12 billion air passengers in 2040 from 187 million air passengers in 2018. Following the unveiling of the vision document, Sinha mentioned how PM Modi’s motto of “reform, perform, transform and then inform” is becoming a reality in the aviation sector. With 100 billion air passengers in the last four years, Sinha said it has been a steep climb for the industry. The minister said that despite the growth, no compromises have been made and instead safety standards have improved greatly in the last few years.
The session concluded with the minister setting the tone for a discussion on drones later in the day. He said air travel in India is cheaper than auto rickshaw rides if one calculates per kilometre mileage and this can be better understood with a discussion on the future of drones.
Talking about the exponential growth of the sector, Somany said, “Aviation market in India is now worth Rs 2 lakh crore, the same as telecom and railways. That gives you the scope of how aviation is growing.”