Despite the recent renovation undertaken at Chennai airport, an AirAsia B’luru-Chennai flight had to make a U-turn on Sunday due to traffic congestion and return to Bengaluru. According to Centre for Aviation (CAPA), Indira Gandhi International Airport and Chennai’s International Airport will reach their handling capacity within four to six years.
India’s airports are struggling to cope with a massive surge in passenger numbers and according to analysts, billions of dollars must be spent to boost their capacity. There’s an urgent need for capacity building in major Indian airports as they are close to saturation,” Binit Somaia, South Asia Director at the Centre for Aviation (CAPA), said.
India has witnessed a six-fold increase in passenger numbers over the past decade as citizens are taking advantage of better connectivity and cheaper fares thanks to a host of low-cost airlines.
Ten airports, including Dehradun, Jaipur, Guwahati, Mangalore, Srinagar and Pune, are already operating beyond their capacity, CAPA said in a report released last month. Others are nearing their limit.
Indian airports handled 265 million domestic passengers in 2016 and will cross 300 million this year, according to CAPA. The country’s entire airport network is only capable of handling 317 million passengers, it says. CAPA also predicts India will overtake Britain as the world’s third-largest market by 2025 and will have 478 million fliers by 2036. The situation has worsened at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. CAPA says it is at 94 percent capacity and is “close to saturation”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made making air travel accessible to all a key priority since 2014. He recently launched the UDAN scheme to connect remote regions by air.