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India will be one of top five aviation markets: Praful Patel

Hyderabad, March 3 (IANS) India would break into the top five aviation markets in the world in next five years, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said Wednesday and invited international companies to be partners in this growth story.

‘The Indian aviation industry will grow much beyond our expectations,’ Patel said, inaugurating India Aviation 2010, the second edition of India’s international civil aviation exhibition and conference at Begumpet airport here. Over 115 companies from overseas are participating in the show.

He hoped India would move up from the present ninth position.

Noting that growth had come back to the sector in the last four to five months, he said if this trend continued, the worst would be over by the end of 2010.

His optimism was based on the robust 18 percent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in civil aviation in 2009, despite the global recession.

‘We have been able to weather the thunderstorm and I am looking at 2010 with cautious optimism and am hopeful that the worst will be over by the end of the year,’ he told representatives of over 200 companies participating in the five-day event.

Patel said India can absorb another 500 helicopters and 200 to 300 aircraft in the next five years.

‘India has such a large geography and population. We have close to 90 operational airports but we need 400 operational airports. It can’t go with less and that is the challenge,’ he said.

‘Western Europe has 5500 commercial planes. The United States has 7500 planes. I don’t think a great country in geography and size like India can do with less than 2000 to 3000 planes in the next 10 years.’

‘People may not believe me. Nobody believed us when we started in 2004,’ he said, recalling poor infrastructure. He pointed out that there were only 120 civil and commercial aircrafts then.

The minister told the conference that the bidding process for the construction of the new airport at Mumbai would be completed within a year.

He told the conference that all measures were being taken to make India’s aviation safe and secure. ‘The growth can’t be at the cost of safety and security,’ he said.

Also, the fact that the US is the focus country and France the partner country for this year’s event reflected the recognition of India’s civil aviation.

CIvil aviation secretary M. Madhavan Nambiar said the last two months had seen encouraging signs of revival in passenger traffic. ‘I am confident that if this trend continues, aviation industry will once again be on growth path,’ he said.

He said as the Asia-Pacific region was a key growth centre of aviation, India was well positioned to connect West and East.

Nambiar said the Delhi airport would become fully operational in July this year.

India Aviation 2010, which began at a tragic note as a Naval aircraft crashed during air show killing both the pilot and the co-pilot, has over 40 aircraft on static and flying display.

Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Russia and the Netherlands have put up country pavilions. The AN-148 aircraft from Antonov UAC-Russia is on display for the first time.

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