According to a recent study of the aviation sector in India by FICCI-KPMG, the civil aviation industry in India is among the top 10 in the world. But this is only a small fraction of its potential, the report adds. The USD 16 million Indian civil aviation industry has the potential to become the second largest around the globe by year 2020 and the largest in the world by year 2030. Capt. Abhimanyu's vision for Haryana is to firmly plant the state at the nucleus of this whirlwind growth; to come up with robust action plans to harness this vast untapped potential? Unless we can emphatically move in this direction, our state may be left behind in terms of both economic and infrastructural growth, and global and domestic connectivity.
According to 2014 estimates, Indian civil airports handle 121 million domestic and 41 million international passengers. By 2020, Indian airports are likely to be handling 336 million domestic and 85 million international passengers. Haryana's growth and development will remain firmly linked with the progress we make in the aviation sector, says Capt. Abhimanyu. For many years now, there has been a strong need for setting up five civil airports one each at Bhiwani, Hisar, Karnal, Narnaul, and Pinjore. The state government could, however, gain approvals only for Karnal and Hisar. Additionally, plans for a cargo terminal in Rohtak were announced in 2013. The completion of these may take 3 years - too long and too little for a state like Haryana.
The presence of civil airports in Haryana is likely to be a major boost to the state's investment prospects. Most of the growth in the country's aviation sector is likely to come from Tier-II and Tier-III cities. The non-metro airports, currently handling about 30% of the total country's air traffic, are soon likely to handle about 45%. The Indian government has plans to invest heavily in setting up about 100 smart cities and 200 low-cost airports in the country within a decade. Haryana is best suited to tap into this opportunity, given its proximity to the National Capital Region and key tourist circuits including the Golden Triangle (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur). Gurgaon, while serviced by the Indira Gandhi International Airport could develop its own cargo airport to handle much of the capital region's cargo handling needs. Jhajjar region is also another great contender to host a cargo airport.
Capt. Abhimanyu believes that Haryana is in urgent need of an aviation academy a training ground which can both develop the skills and groom aspirants to join the booming aviation industry. A city such as Rohtak or Faridabad may be best suited for such an academy to be built through a PPP (public private partnership) model. To create awareness and interest in the youth from rural regions, this academy could spread out, establish branches, and undertake construction of airstrips in various parts of the state. This looks like a far cry given the current focus of the administration. Even existing facilities such as the historic Karnal Flying Club are in great need of ultra-modern equipment such as multi-engine flight simulators to develop and coach a whole new generation of flight and ground crew. An aggressive participation in the development of aviation in the state is likely to infuse new life into the various small and medium-size industries of the state by attracting investments.
Capt. Abhimanyu's vision of Naya Haryana entails rapid growth and dynamic additions to the aviation capabilities of the state. Haryana must be a major aviation hub in the country, he says. Not only must we look at indigenous growth but must also build up capabilities to service the training and staffing needs of the aviation industry across India. Haryana is well capable of realising this dream, but only if the state's leadership and administration is aligned with its growth and prosperity. It is time to reach up and touch the skies, says Capt. Abhimanyu.