India estimates $120B in aviation investment by 2020

Washington DC
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India is touting investment opportunities in the country's growing civil aviation sector.

As much as $120 billion in investments could potentially be absorbed by India's aviation sector by 2020, India Ministry of Civil Aviation Secretary M. Madhavan Nambiar said on 8 December during the US-India Aviation Partnership Summit in Washington.

Domestic traffic could grow to 160 million and 180 million operations annually by 2020, based on analysts' predictions, he says.

Analysts have also predicted that the country's international traffic could exceed 50 million operations annually by 2020, he adds.

Nambiar says the Indian civil aircraft market is valued at $90 billion with the sale of 1,000 aircraft between 2008 and 2020.

As more aircraft enter the market, more demand for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work will follow. India's MRO sector is expected to reach $1.17 billion next year, followed by $2.6 billion by 2020, the secretary says. In addition to airline-related ventures, investment opportunities related to airport infrastructure abound in India, which faces challenges such as infrastructure bottlenecks, Nambiar says.

As a result of the bottlenecks, the Indian government has already started heavily investing in aviation infrastructure, he says.

India requires $30 billion in airport infrastructure investments, the secretary says, explaining that it is estimated the country's airports could possible handle more than 300 million passengers annually by 2020.

The country has 82 functional airports, and plans to upgrade roughly half of these facilities. Nambiar says roughly $10 billion will be spent on airport upgrades and modernization efforts by next year.

Mumbai and Delhi airports have already been privatised, and are being upgraded at an estimated investment of $4 billion.

Kolkata and Chennai airports will also undergo improvements, and 35 other city airports have been proposed for upgrades, he says.

On top of the planned upgrades for existing facilities, India is targeting the construction of 11 new greenfield airports.

One forthcoming airport, Navi Mumbai, will be developed through a public-private partnership at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion, Nambiar says.

Airport infrastructure represents a "huge opportunity for investors", he says.

Several efforts are underway or planned to facilitate investments in India.

Earlier this year the southern state of Karnataka opened the country's first economic zone dedicated to the aerospace sector. Backed by Bangalore-based aerospace and engineering firm Quest Global, the zone opened near Belgaum.

Andhra Pradesh is also developing an aerospace and precision engineering special economic zone, Nambiar says, while the state of Tamil Nadu has proposed an aero park catering to the design, manufacture and maintenance of aircraft.