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India expects to triple aviation market in next 15 years

New Delhi says that India has doubled the size of its aviation market in the last four years, and will look to triple it in the next 15 years.

Speaking in a televised interview, India's minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, adds that by the end of the current 2018 financial year, the country will hit 200 million passenger trips.

The figure is up from 160 million passenger trips made in the 2017 financial year, and double the size from four years ago.

Sinha states that while India's growth in aviation is noteworthy, it still lags behind China with an annual figure of 500 million passenger trips, and the United States with 900 million passenger trips a year.

He acknowledges that India's airports and airspace still remain congested, and that New Delhi has to plan to accommodate future growth.

"We have about 500 aircraft in the air, and over 650 aircraft on order. We have to work towards a safe and secure expansion of the aviation sector, because it is something that people are now finding very attractive as a transportation alternative," says Sinha.

"India is at a 'rail-parity'. Today the price of flying is equal to the price of upper-class air-conditioned rail travel. There has been a tremendous amount of traffic that has started to move into aviation."

Sinha explains that the number of airline trips has also exceeded the number of upper-class air-conditioned rail travel, which stood at 130 million for the 2017 financial year. In addition, total revenue for the Indian aviation sector stands at around 1.17 trillion rupees ($17.5 billion) - similar to rail travel and telecommunications.

"As we move forward, like in the US or Europe or China, there will be two or three large airline groups flying different brands.You can have full-service international carriers, low-cost domestic carriers with different brands. Our airline groups are going to be the size of airline groups around the world like in the US or Europe with the [IAG Group] that owns British Airways and Iberia, or the [SIA Group] that owns Singapore Airlines, Scoot, and SilkAir. It's a very exciting future for our aviation sector going forward"

On Air India's impending divestment, Sinha says that New Delhi is about to appoint a 'transaction advisor'.

This party "will speak to potential bidders, provide them the data and all the necessary information they need to put bids together".

"We are hoping to bring this to a successful conclusion really soon," he adds.

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