There will be 190-200 operational airports in India by 2040, with two each in the top 31 cities, according to a vision document released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in Mumbai on Tuesday. Delhi and Mumbai will have three airports each, says the vision document.

According to the report, India, the seventh-largest aviation market with 187 million passengers (to, from and within India) in 2017-18, is expected to become the third-largest by 2022, inching closer to the U.S., projected number two. The air passenger traffic in India is expected to grow to sixfold to 1.1 billion by 2040. The commercial airline fleet is likely to grow from 622 carriers in March 2018 to around 2,359 in March 2040.

India has the fastest-growing aviation sector and (the country) is on its way to becoming an aircraft manufacturing hub in the near future, said civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu.

“Very soon we will be flying a commercial aircraft which will be built in India... India can manufacture critical components. Assembly should also happen in India but it will take time.  We need technology, resources, partnerships, and we need to work together,” Prabhu told reporters at the inauguration of the first-ever Global Aviation Summit 2019 in Mumbai on Tuesday.

The minister also unveiled the Vision 2040 for the aviation industry, which he says is “an effort to chart out a clear strategy for India’s growth in the next few years”, while addressing the immediate challenges facing the aviation sector in the country.

India will establish its own aircraft leasing industry which may handle almost 90% of aircraft being ordered in India by 2040. India's tax structure and repossession processes will be equally or more attractive than those in leading global jurisdictions, the vision document noted.

According to the document, the incremental land requirement for airport expansion is expected to be around 150,000 acres and the capital investment (not including cost of acquiring land) is expected to be around $40-50 billion.

It further said that the government may consider establishing a Nabh Nirman Fund (NNF) with a starting corpus of around $2 billion to support low traffic airports in their initial phases.

“The concept of land pooling may be used to keep land acquisition costs low and to provide landowners with high value developed plots in the vicinity of the airports,” it said.

Prabhu also sees the sector as a job creator and the vision document says that aviation sector in India will create a total of 25 million jobs in the country. Currently, the job count in the sector stands at five million.

Flying in an aircraft is one of the most affordable, when compared to the rest of the world, emphasised Jayant Sinha, the minister of state for civil aviation. Addressing the summit here, Sinha went on to say that flying in aircraft is  cheaper than taking an autorickshaw on a per km basis and that the “aviation ecosystem is poised to grow from autorickshaws to air-rickshaws.”

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