Tuesday 19 October 2021 - 8:49:10 am

Indian Minister's post-COVID plan for reviving civil aviation

By Krishnan Nayar NEW DELHI, 18th September, 2021 (WAM) – India’s new Civil Aviation Minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia, plans to restore his country’s position as the third-largest domestic aviation market in the world with over 341 million passengers in the year before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a series of steps, such as getting new legislation passed in Parliament, public outreach and dialogue with state Chief Ministers, Scindia lamented that India was "poised to become the third-largest overall market in three years till the COVID-19 headwinds hit markets across the world."

Central to Scindia’s efforts to reclaim India’s potential as a leading aviation market in the world, is technology. The Minister of State for Civil Aviation, General V K Singh, has told Members of the lower House of India’s Parliament, the Lok Sabha, in writing that "contactless, seamless and paperless handling of passengers from the entry gate of terminals to the boarding point" will become a reality at many airports in a phased manner.

Six airports in India are now using facial recognition technology in a project which is at the trial stage. "Upon successful completion, the same will be implemented across other airports in a phased manner," the Minister of State wrote.

The use of such technology will make air travel safer amidst the pandemic and help remove fears of flying among the public. "Route rationalisation in the national airspace is being carried out in coordination with the Indian Air Force, using modern air traffic flow management techniques to develop shorter flight routes and lower fuel consumption by airlines."

Scindia has written to almost all state Chief Ministers requesting their personal intervention in expediting matters for strengthening aviation infrastructure in states. As an example, Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala, has been asked for land for the development of aprons, construction of new terminal buildings, cargo complexes and car parking.

Vijayan, in turn, has sought Scindia’s help in relieving the financial burden on unskilled and semi-skilled workers from Kerala who are returning to Gulf following a return of post-COVID stability there. "I request your immediate intervention to make airfares affordable to all, especially unskilled and semi-skilled workers, who form the majority of our people in the Gulf," the Chief Minister wrote.

WAM/Amjad Saleh