• Policies will deliver infra, services thrust to aviation: Sinha

    The Centre is keen on ensuring that the aviation sector is equipped with adequate physical infrastructure and skilled human resources to face growth challenges over the next 15 years, Union Minister of State or Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said here.

    The aviation sector is expected to treble in size in the next ten years. Over 140 million people fly annually now and this is more than the estimated 130 million who travel by air-conditioned railway coaches, Sinha said, adding that there was huge headroom for growth.

    The Centre is putting in place policies to establish multi-tiered infrastructure and quality services, the Union Minister said, addressing the third annual G Ramachandran Memorial Lecture, organised by the Southern India Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Saturday.

    Infra boost
    The recently-announced UDAN regional connectivity scheme for short-distance air services to connecting small towns with larger hubs will be in place early next year and is one element of the planned infrastructure. Airlines will now bid for these services, which will potentially bring into use over 17 under-served airports and 400 unused airports. Currently, there are 75 airports with scheduled services. The airlines will bid for viability gap funding, he said.

    The regional services will help launch commuter and feeder services, link remote locations with each other and enable niche offerings like spiritual tourism, he said.

    Over the next 10 years, the airport network will also be trebled, with existing airports in major cities being developed as global hub airports, creation of green-field airports, regional hubs and major cargo and manufacturing hub airports.

    The quality of customer services will also be improved by bringing together service providers and stakeholders to ensure comfortable travel and resolution of complaints. A mobile app will soon be launched for complaint registration and assured response, he said.

    On demonetisation
    Sinha said the decision to pull out ?500 and ?1,000 notes from circulation will deliver multiple benefits. As people surrender these notes, bank deposits will grow, tax base will expand and the black or parallel economy will be compressed. Counterfeit currency will also be pushed out.

    Digital payments will grow, which is a cheaper option than currency-based transactions, he said. Mark McGwire Jersey

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