India: more effort than it’s worth?

This article first appeared as a Comment in the 18 March issue of Flight International.

At the India Aviation show in Hyderabad, a senior executive for a private jet firm tried to take a prospective client to the static line to see a multimillion dollar aircraft but the pair were stopped by a security guard demanding passes. After several agitated minutes, passes were produced from the airframer’s chalet. Guards frisked the pair before allowing them to the jet.
This indignity would have been familiar to any businessperson dealing with India. Every day, fees, duties, and byzantine regulations hamper development of India’s airline and aerospace sectors.
All this stupidity costs money. Despite India’s large population, its carriers receive a fraction as many new aircraft as are regularly delivered to China. Despite its strategic location between east and west, bureaucratic incompetence means India’s great cities have ceded any hope of being international hubs to better-run jurisdictions in the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia.
Indian officials must realise that freeing aviation from bureaucracy and inane regulations would boost economic growth. This is especially important now, when India’s economy is faltering.
Any Indian official who surveyed the Hyderabad static park would have counted one-third as many aircraft as featured at the last show in 2012. The aerospace industry will always want to sell products in India, but not at any price.

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