• Aviation regulator concerned about airport congestion as aircraft deliveries line up

    India’s airlines’ plan to seek a larger pie of the passenger traffic by lining up aircraft deliveries over the next few years has raised concerns due to lack of infrastructure at already clogged airports.
    The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has conveyed the concern to the ministry of civil aviation, said an official, requesting anonymity, with the aviation regulator.
    The official said Indian commercial carriers would add at least 40 new and leased aircraft by March 2017 and 23 more by December 2017. The regulator expects rise in congestion at large airports as Indian carriers have lined up deliveries of at least 550 planes over the next six years.
    On 4 October, DGCA announced the winter schedule for domestic Indian carriers with at least 21% more domestic flights set to operate compared with the year-ago period. The winter schedule starts from 30 October and runs till 26 March 2017.
    DGCA approved a total of 16,600 flights per week to be operated by domestic carriers compared with 13,744 flights during the winter schedule last year.
    Currently, there are 1,504 aircraft registered with DGCA. These include 455 aircraft owned by commercial airlines.
    The DGCA official pointed out that tepid response to the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) is also a cause of concern.
    “If RCS works, the congestion witnessed at metro and other large airports in the country would get diverted to smaller unserved and underserved airports which are being developed,” said the official.
    However the National Democratic Alliance government’s ambitious RCS planned to be operationalised by the year-end has been delayed and is now expected to take off next year.
    Another DGCA official, who also did not want to be named, said the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has been requesting DGCA for runway augmentation, but that is not possible due to current operations at large airports.
    AAI owns 125 airports, of which 77 are functional. India also has 370 airstrips ranging between 400m and 1km that are partially operational. Brendan Gallagher Womens Jersey

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