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Do you think Indian ATC is doing enough to reduce RT congestion in the skies ?
From The Editor's Desk - Eighth Issue, March, 2007

The year 2007 began on happy note for the Indian aviation. The Aero India International Aerospace and Defence Exposition was cleared by the Defence Minister with flying colours among major international presence in Feb 2007 with India pitching itself as a major future global outsourcing destination offering competitive prices and a huge pool of skilled manpower. The sixth edition of the biennial exhibition which began at the Indian Air Force station at the Yehlanka Air base in Bangalore drew more than 500 companies including 275 foreign companies . The Indian government’s decision to allow foreign and private investment has also encouraged many global companies to explore the possibilities of partnerships with local firms to set up manufacturing and research facilities . During the show, India showcased its products and platforms, assemblies, subassemblies and components that are competitively priced.


India has rightly made its presence felt among the world aviation community .Nobody had ever dreamt of a double digit growth in Indian Aviation before . 25% growth in Aviation was a far fetched dream before now . According to the Director General of IATA, Giovanni Bisignani, “ The expansion of air transport in India is among the fastest in the world.” This is being well reflected in the growth rate of air passengers and aircraft orders placed by the Indian Carriers. And Aviation Experts predict continuity in this growth over the next 5-10 years.

But there are certain serious teething infrastructure problems that we need to attend to and immediately. Our airports are yet not ready to meet this surging growth resulting in serious air congestions over our airports . The domestic airlines except Indian have introduced a congestion surcharge of Rs.150 on the air passenger to combat the problem faced by them of incessant fuel burning by circling aircraft holding over our airports, ready to land, but made to wait in a queue by the Air Traffic Control due to congestion. There is a heavy congestion at Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore Airports and they all are reeling under tremendous pressures.

Hearing a PIL- filed by a Delhi based advocate Anoop Bagai- that challenged the legality of this charge, a bench of Justices expressed concern at this “passenger unfriendly” move. To this ,Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra informed the Honorable Court that the Civil Aviation Ministry could not intervene in this as Airlines have the freedom to levy the ticketing fee. The Honorable Court, however , did not accept this submission and has asked the Ministry to “look into” the matter and come up with a detailed response in the next hearing on the April 17.

The Civil Aviation Ministry is exploring possibilities of proposing higher parking charges for peak time operations and sops of lower parking charges during lean times to combat the rising air congestion over major Indian Airports .What do we really learn from all these experiences???


  • To immediately augment and build infrastructure to meet the growing demand by ways of more parking bays to park aircraft, rapid exit taxi ways and parallel runways, aerobridges, spacious terminal buildings and passenger facilitations .
  • To address and augment the needs of growing Air Traffic Management in our skies .Increasing per hour landings in major Indian International Airports from 25-35 to 45-50 as in major International Airports worldwide.
  • To confer the status of infrastructure on the Air Traffic Controllers on duty and address the issues of shortages of Air Traffic Controllers and the issues of the inability to decongest the air traffic by opening up of more air traffic units due to shortage of man power. To start long term man power planning vis-à-vis traffic growth.
  • Decluster the domestic schedule operating at our airports by spreading them evenly.
  • Start long term planning of 40 to 50 years done up for aviation instead of 10- 20 years.

To match the growth which is BIG , we need to also think REAL BIG. Instead of adding 10-15 parking bays at our airports we need to plan for 100-150 parking bays and related operational infrastructure after a detailed long term study has been made into the needs of tomorrow at each of our important airports .We need to reserve all our lands close to the airports to cater for future aviation growth .For this combined public and Govt. will is very important .It is necessary to feel the importance of our airports as means of connectivity and gateway to our country.

India plans to spend $50 billion in the aviation market in the next 20 years .Aviation giants such as Boeing and Air Bus-on the Civil Aviation front-as well as Lockheed Martin and France’s Snecma-on the Military front –are trying to make their presence felt in our growth. Boeing plans to invest more than $185 million in facilities , services and products over a period of 10 years.

India’s first private MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) venture HAMCO has taken off at Hyderabad with the offer to provide high quality maintenance and repair services, minor and major modifications, repairs for accidental damages to the civilian single aisle and twin aisle aircraft at a low and affordable cost in the south east Asia .It also offers services at airports including trouble shooting and component changes and daily changes.

Jet Airways ,the country’s top private airline, plans to launch its long planned maiden flight to the US via Belgium by July –August 2007 and plans to make Ahmedabad the fourth Indian city in its network to have direct flights to London’s Heathrow Airport from April 2007.The proposed merger of Air India and Indian by the end of 2007 will definitely endow them with a distinct competitive position among other domestic operators. Public Air Travel for many business executives has also become a passé now .The new mantra today is to own their own private jets which are also about having to avoid long check-in queues and waiting time .The low cost Carriers like Air Deccan are today connecting all the emerging metros and second tier cities and remote hinterlands.

The future of Indian Aviation lies in our hands. We just need to sit in the cockpit and take Indian Aviation to the F460 and higher still, with all our skills, planning and dedicated implementations. Let our Aviation success be a tribute to the TALENT that is INDIA .Let us continuously strive for excellence in a never ending quest for improvement and innovation to offer a solution that is safe, comfortable, profitable and Environment friendly .If not now, when?? If not us, then who?? ?? So let’s GET, SET ROLLING for a BRILLIANT TAKE-OFF to the FUTURE of INDIAN SKIES.

Aryama Sanyal