The Indian aviation sector is witnessing phenomenal growth and there could be 2,000 planes in a short time, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday. He told the Lok Sabha that the country's aviation sector is the third-largest in the world and there is an annual growth of 17 per cent. In 2008, the number of passengers stood at 117 million and now it is around 440 million. It is expected to touch 1 billion, the minister said. With the kind of orders for aircraft, the number could be 2,000 in a short time, Puri noted. The country currently has over 600 aircraft.
The minister was responding to a debate on a bill to amend the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) Act. Puri said he would ask Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to delink Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) from petrol and diesel. ATF accounts for a significant chunk of the operational costs of an airline. The cost of aviation is high as there are institutional constraints, he said. The minister said the debt of Air India is completely unsustainable and privatisation of the airline would be pushed through soon. The national carrier has a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore.