Civil Aviation Minister Inaugurates Conference of DGCAS, Asia Pacific Regions; Calls for Opposing Unilateral Environmental Measures Leading to Suppression of Growth of Aviation Industry

Union Minister of Civil Aviation Shri Ajit Singh inaugurated the 49th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Asia Pacific Regions in New Delhi today. The Conference with the theme “Managing Air Transport Growth in the Asia Pacific Region through a Collaborative Approach to Safety, Security and Sustainability” will continue till 12th October 2012.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Singh categorically stated that the call for suppressing aviation growth to reduce its environmental impact is not acceptable as a solution. He said that innovative solutions are to be found to address environmental concerns. The Minister called upon the delegates to oppose any unilateral environment measures imposed by a State or group of State like the EU ETS and work with ICAO to evolve global environment protection on basis of equity and consensus following the broad consensus obtained in UNFCCC in this regard.

The full text of the Speech of the Minister is as follows:

“I would like to extend a hearty welcome to all of you to India and would like to convey our Government`s sincere appreciation of the fact that the countries and organizations represented here have attached utmost importance to this 49th DGCA conference. We are thankful for your participation.

I would also take this opportunity to thank International Civil Aviation Organization for associating with our Government to organize this important event. The fact that the ICAO team to this conference is led by the Secretary General of ICAO is a testimony to the high priority which ICAO accords to the importance of Regional Cooperation.

At the outset, I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm India’s commitment and support to ICAO towards fulfilment of its vision of safe, secure, orderly and sustainable development of international civil aviation by promoting consensus and cooperation amongst members of ICAO. India will continue to fully support ICAO’s endeavours to promote understanding, friendship and peace amongst the nations and people of the world besides promoting economic development, trade and tourism throughout the world.

India, besides working with ICAO through a global framework, shares ICAO’s increasing emphasis on promotion of regional initiatives on safety, security, and environment. I am happy to inform that India participates effectively in many regional programmes of ICAO in South Asia and Asia Pacific besides providing assistance to States in the region in building their capacity in aviation sector.

I would take the opportunity to bring to the attention of this august gathering some of the recent developments in Indian aviation and initiatives undertaken by India to fulfil its obligation toward the Chicago Convention and ICAO.

The civil aviation sector in India plays an important role in our national economy comprising of over one billion people and growing at around 9% per annum. We expect a double digit growth in air traffic in the next few years.

Responding to the needs of our growing economy, we have been pursuing air transport liberalisation policies to promote tourism, trade and connectivity within the country. India has an open sky policy for cargo without any restriction and also a liberalised tourist charter policy regime. A new open sky regime with SAARC, open sky between India and USA, horizontal agreement with EU, a liberal bilateral policy for ASEAN Countries, multiple designation of air carrier with 52 countries, unilateral open sky policy during peak season between November and March are some highlights worth mentioning for promotion of international civil aviation.

To accommodate growing air traffic, India has undertaken initiatives to modernise and upgrade the existing airports and develop new Greenfield airports through a mixed strategy of public sector, private sector, Joint Venture and Public-Private Partnership. Two major airports of New Delhi and Mumbai have been upgraded through JV route and Delhi airport has already completed its first phase doubling its passenger capacity to 60 million annually. Bangalore and Hyderabad Greenfield airports on Build, Own, Operate & Transfer have been commissioned in 2008. New airport facilities are ready for commissioning in Chennai and Kolkata very soon. About 50 other non-metro airports are being modernised within next two years. 12 new Greenfield airports are being planned. New policy in airport sector has now permitted up to 100% Foreign Direct Investment in Greenfield airports.

India is committed to provide facilitation standards for passengers in line with the best international practices and has set up high level institutional mechanism for this purpose. Other measures include introduction of Advance Passenger Information, Advance Cargo Information and implementation of MRTD in time bound manner.

India is a major corridor between the East and West. We have provided a state-of-the-art CNS/ATM services en route and at our airports. I am also happy to announce that GAGAN, whose final operational phase has been launched, would bring India on the threshold of redefining navigation in the region from land based to satellite based system. The final operational phase and its certification process is expected to be completed in June 2013. GAGAN has a footprint overlapping with European SBAS on to the west, and Japanese SBAS on the east.

I can confidently say that India is committed to promote aviation safety and security and supports all the initiatives of ICAO in the area.

India is sensitive to the current environmental issues and is committed in its role to reduce environmental impact of the rapid growth of aviation. As a country we have targeted Government policies on environment and are well informed and vigilant civil society and a proactive judiciary. As most of our airlines have a relatively new fleet of aircraft we had a definite newcomer advantage. In this regard, our national carrier Air India is about to complete a total fleet replacement programme of 120 new aircrafts. Our major airports like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata are being remodelled incorporating the latest environment friendly technology. Rules and procedures for limiting the fuel burn like PBN procedures are being adopted along with development of GPS aided Geo Augmented Navigation Project, Flexible use of Air space etc. to bring about significant efficiencies in operation and reduction in emission. We have also taken steps to monitor our Carbon Footprint in this sector and I am happy to note that Secretary General would release Our Carbon Footprint Report for 2011 tomorrow before all of you.

Having said that, India is still one of the least penetrated civil air transport market in the world and its capacity to grow in the coming years has already triggered a race amongst major global industry stakeholders to be a part of this process. The challenges of dealing with growth and environment are huge but we in India are trying to deal with this in a mature manner. We need the support of developed countries both financially as well as technologically to address the environmental concerns without depriving the people of India the economic benefits of air transport. India would seek support of all the members to help create a level playing field for the new developing States in the international civil aviation arena. We must realize that aviation is not only about air transport but it is a major driver of economic growth and resultant employment and development. The call for suppressing aviation growth to reduce its environmental impact is not acceptable to us as a solution. We need to facilitate growth of aviation along with finding innovative solutions to addressing environmental concerns. In this connection we would request the delegates to oppose any unilateral environment measures imposed by a State or group of State like the EU ETS and work with ICAO to evolve global environment protection on basis of equity and consensus following the broad consensus obtained in UNFCCC in this regard.

At the end, India would like to thank the Governments, DGCAs of Asia Pacific Regions for the faith reposed in India to organize this very important event. Finally, I offer my country`s best wishes for the success of this Conference and hope that all of you have a very comfortable and memorable stay in India and when you return home all of you would become ambassadors for promoting Indian culture and cuisine in your respective countries.”