Domestic and international air traffic has expanded at a CAGR or 22 per cent and 14 per cent respectively over 2002-07, driven by growth of low-cist carriers and the emergence of India as a business and tourist destination. These figures outstrip government forecasts of a CAGR of 6-7 percent over the same period and have shown up the inadequacies of India's aviation infrastructure. Airport developers are likely to see their projects achieve higher than anticipated capacity utilization n the early years of development. However, higher crude prices are forcing airlines to rationalize air traffic on certain routes and cut down on some short haul flights which could lead to lower traffic growth in the short term.
The business models of Indian airports are on the verge of undergoing a paradigm shift. However, given the current crude scenario this seems to be a distant dream. Around 2005, when the focus shifted to airport modernization, the creeping growth rate of 9 per cent skyrocketed given the expansion capacity plans for airports. However, following the introduction of low cost airlines there was a reason for the air traffic to zoom. Total passenger traffic grew 23 per cent Y-o-Y in FY06, 32 per cent in FY07, and 28 per cent in FY08, A major portion of this growth came from domestic traffic: international traffic also has been accelerating, growing at 14-15 per cent in each of the three periods.
Additionally, 25 more cities are building airports with a participation of private players. Indian private airlines - jet, Sahara, Kingfisher, Deccan, and Spice jet - account for around 60 per cent of the domestic passenger traffic. Some among these have also started international flights are well.
Uncertainty Factors: In addition to traffic growth, returns fro airport projects also depended on relevant operation agreements that develop0ers have with the government and the regulatory framework. Typically, Greenfield projects have returns that are not capped and retain all traffic-linked upsides, while brown field airports have a regulatory cap on returns and a certain degree of subsidization from non-aeronautical revenues. Such regulatory nuances for airport development are still in the nascent stage and there is lack of clarity on various issues.
Outlook and Potential: The passenger traffic in India is likely to grow at a CAGR of over 15 per cent in the next five years (expected to cross 100 million passengers per annum by 2010). The favorable demographics and rapid growth point to a continued boom in domestic passenger traffic and international outbound traffic. With increasing investment and trade activity, international inbound traffic too is expected to grow rapidly. Some of the major growth opportunities lie in modernization/up gradation of metro airports through induction of partners for Chennai and Kolkata. Greenfield airport projects have also been planned and commissioned in resort destinations and emerging metros such as Goa, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Greater Noida, and Kannnur, thereby adding to the growth of the industry.
The Committee on Infrastructure has initiated several policy measures that would ensure time-bound creation of world-class airports in India. A comprehensive civil aviation a policy is on the anvil. An independent Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Bill for economic regulation is also under consideration. The policy of open skies introduced some time ago has already provided a powerful sort in traffic growth the has exceeded 20 percent per annum during the past two years.
Modernization and expansion of the Delhi and Mumbai airports through PPPs Has been awarded, based on a rigorous and transparent competitive bidding and evaluation process. Other major airports such as Chennai and Kolkata are also proposed to be taken up for modernization through the PPP route. Similarly, to ensure balanced airport development around the country, a comprehensive plan for the development of other 35 non-metro airports is also under preparation. These measures are expected to bring a total investment of Rs 40,000 crore for modernization of the airport infrastructure.