It was one of that fine afternoon I took my flight to Kathmandu way back in 2005. It was my first international flight and I was gleaming with the fact that I was carried by Jet Airways. Two years later, I had another flight to Kathmandu by state carrier Indian Airlines. In between I had many domestic flights and I could sense the differences in the facilities offered by private and public airlines. I was told by many during the second flight that many reimbursement schemes are possible only if they take state carrier. This thought came to my mind when two of our Hon. member of Parliaments delayed the departure of Delhi - trivandrum flights a couple of days ago. They were complaining about decayed condition of the state carrier. I was surprised by two factors; why don’t they raise these matters in the Parliament and why don’t they prefer a better alternative offered by the private companies? Looking more into the matter, I learnt that one of the MP is from a small town, Allapuzha which is placed in between both Cochin and Trivandrum Airports. The other day when I took a flight from Delhi to Cochin via Hyderabad, I found more that 80% of the passengers embarked from Hyderabad are temple devotees to Lord Ayappa. I was astonished by the fact that there is no green field airport near to Sabarimala, one of the most sought after pilgrimage destination in this country. Why can’t that MP from Allapuzha (which is incidentally adjoins Sabarimala) voice for such a green field strip so that it would be a profitable one from day one onwards. It is the same area where largest NRK population to Europe, US and UK originate from. Why cant it be a stop over green field strip for them while they take more than 15 hours flight to home.
One of the recently conducted studies by KPMG says;
At present, India has about 80 fully functional airports. In addition, there are another 368 landing strips that function as makeshift airports for limited purposes. (my comment; this is the reason for slow growth)
As many as 156 belong to the defence or semi-defence sectors and various state governments, while 63 are owned by the private sector.
Of these, just 24 airports account for a whopping 94 per cent of the current air traffic and the balance is spread over 36 smaller or regional airports.
There is an upsurge in the domestic air travellers in the last couple of years thanks to the entrance of private players in the sector. But intimidating tax system and differential pricing has not helped the sector to grow in these times. The sector is looking forward to a change and I am sure like Tirupati and Dharamasala were connected as the private airlines did which hitherto not, there are many points for connectivity in this Incredible India