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Unveiling India's Aviation Potential

Setting the stage for India's Commercial Aviation future, the biennial Wings India event, soars high in Hyderabad

January 31, 2024 By Ayushee Chaudhary Photo(s): By MoCA_GoI / X, WingsIndia2024 / X, UKinHyderabad / X, JM_Scindia / X, SP Guide Pubns
Inaugurating the Wings India 2024 Exhibition, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Minister of Civil Aviation with General (Dr) V.K. Singh (Retd), Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Minister of Roads & Buildings and Cinematography, Government of Telangana, and Sanjeev Kumar, Chairman, AAI
Inaugural session of Wings India 2024 with Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Minister of Civil Aviation

In a spectacular four-day event held at Hyderabad's Begumpet Airport, the biennial Wings India 2024, encompassing Commercial, General, and Business Aviation, unfolded its wings under the inauguration of Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, the Minister of Civil Aviation (MoCA). The event, organised by the MoCA in collaboration with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and FICCI, carried the theme "Connecting India to the World in Amrit Kaal: Setting the Stage for India Civil Aviation @2047."

The biennial aviation event Wings India aimed to unite business leaders and policymakers. The primary objective of the event was to highlight India's prowess in the aviation sector and its emergence as the world's third-largest civil aviation market. Capturing the diverse aspects of India's civil aviation sector, from policy discussions and technological innovations to ambitious growth plans and global partnerships. The event stood as a testament to India's commitment to becoming a global aviation hub.

In a spectacular four-day event held at Hyderabad's Begumpet Airport, the biennial Wings India 2024, encompassing Commercial, General, and Business Aviation, unfolded its wings

General (Dr) V.K. Singh (Retd), Minister of State for Civil Aviation at the inauguration of the event

The grand inauguration marked the commencement of a series of activities, including a global ministerial conference, a CEOs' forum, B2B/B2G meetings, an awards ceremony, cultural evening, and a business networking dinner. This four-day extravaganza aimed to unite industry leaders and policymakers, shedding light on India's growing significance as the world's third-largest civil aviation market.

In his inaugural address, the Minister emphasised the philosophy of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbkum," underlining civil aviation's role in connecting the world as one family. Highlighting India's aviation growth, he stated that the country, despite substantial progress, remains a highly under-penetrated market, with ambitious plans to reach 635 million domestic passengers by FY 2030.

In his welcome address, Asangba Chuba Ao, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, emphasised the goal of making India a global aviation leader
Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Minister of Roads & Buildings and Cinematography, Government of Telangana, highlighted the state's commitment to Aviation

The Union Minister said that Aviation sector is one of the key drivers of economic development and its growth in the emerging economies has been incredible. The aviation economy provides significant economic and social benefits as it facilitates tourism, trade, connectivity, generates economic growth, provides jobs, and provide a lifeline for remote communities and enable a rapid response during unprecedented situations. The Indian aviation sector symbolises 3As: Accessibility, Availability and Affordability.

Talking about India's civil aviation growth story, the Minister said that India is the shining star in the Civil Aviation landscape. "Total number of domestic pax rose from 60 million in 2014 to 143 million in 2020 growing at a CAGR of 14.5 per cent and is expected to have crossed the figure of 150 million in 2023. We are clocking more than 4.5 lakh Pax a day on a regular basis with a high of 4.67 lakh domestic passengers recently. In the six years leading to FY 2020 the number of international passengers had also grown at CAGR of 6.1 per cent. Domestic Cargo volumes handled by Indian airports in the 15 years leading to FY 2019 increased by 60 per cent while international cargo volumes increased by 53 per cent. Despite tremendous growth in recent times, India still remains highly under-penetrated market. Even if, as per projections, the number of domestic passengers reaches 635 million by FY 2030, India will still be one of the least penetrated of the 20 largest markets.", Scindia said.

The Minister said that under Prime Minister's flagship scheme RCS-UDAN, 76 airports in Tier-3 and Tier-4 and other remote corner of the country have been operationalised, thus enhancing last mile connectivity. "Over the past 6 years, UDAN has unlocked the true potential of our country by promoting tourism, boosting trade, and empowering local economies. Airstrips and Airports languishing since 2nd World War have been transformed under this scheme and are now giving wings to flyers in the remotest parts of the country. More than 1.32 crore people have benefited from this scheme in more than 2.5 Lakh flights. We have also provided VGF of almost 3,100 crores, awarded 1,300 UDAN routes and operationalised 517 routes under the scheme. To ensure seamless Last Mile Connectivity in the country we are also working promote growth of Helicopters and Small Aircrafts in India. We have conducted special UDAN rounds for Small Aircraft Schemes, Seaplane Routes and Helicopter Routes. To enhance safety of helicopter operations and provide all-weather day/night access, we are working to rollout a helicopter specific low-level IFR route using GAGAN. In addition to Aviation Infrastructure we are addressing issues of Capacity building across the value chain including Human Resources. We have liberalised policies so as to ensure adequate availability of Pilots, Cabin Crew, Engineers, etc in the country. We have substantially increased number of FTOs in the country which shall ensure adequate supply of trained resourced for the Industry. We have been issuing record number of Commercial Pilot Licenses in the country over the last two years with the figure crossing 1,622 CPLs in 2023 which surpassed the previous best figure of 1,165 CPLs clocked in 2022 by 40 per cent.", the Minister said.

Seven major announcements were made at Wings India 2024, including the launch of UDAN 5.3, Airbus-Air India Training Centre, and an order of 150 aircraft by Akasa Air

Scindia further added that India is expected to grow to 300 million domestic passengers by 2030 and would still be one of the most unpenetrated markets in the top 20 world markets. He stated that India is on the path of becoming the drone hub of the world and 10,000 women drone pilots would be covered under the government sponsored scheme. "India has become a shining star in the aviation landscape. India is the 7th largest civil aviation market in the world and if we consider both the domestic and international passengers, we stand as the 5th largest," he added.

Captivating pictures from Wings India 2024 (Top Row) Outdoor display with Boeing 777-9 being showcased for the first time (Other Rows) Indoor displays of some major exhibitors

Gen (Dr) V.K. Singh (Retd), Minister of State for Civil Aviation & Road, Transport and Highways, Government of India emphasised that the civil aviation is a lucrative sector for all over the world, contributing to both the national and global GDP.

Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Minister of Roads & Buildings and Cinematography, Government of Telangana, said that Hyderabad has become a hub for wings and global civil aviation. "Telangana is the fastest growing state in civil aviation with a thrust on aviation and aerospace," he added. Mr Reddy also highlighted that the state government was focusing on setting up a helipad in each district and Heli-tourism in Hyderabad and Vemulawada.

Asangba Chuba Ao, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India said that India was not just about planes and runways but is setting the tone for civil aviation with an international significance including major deals and substantive growth.

(CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT TOP) Airbus and Air India partner for a top-notch flight training center in Gurugram; GMR & IndiGo Consortium in developing sustainable training; Akasa Air triples its order book with 150 Boeing 737 MAX jets; and UDAN 5.3 Release as government boosts regional air connectivity

Remi Maillard, Chairman FICCI Civil Aviation Committee and President & Managing Director, Airbus (India & South Asia) shared industry insights and the more recent groundbreaking technological developments. He stated that the Paris Airshow held in 2023 was Indian air show with record aircraft bookings by Indian carriers.

Seven major announcements were made at Wings India 2024:

  • Release of the joint knowledge paper on civil aviation by FICCI and KPMG
  • Launch of UDAN 5.3
  • Launch of the Airbus-Air India Training Centre, with the purchase of more airplanes and the setting of a flight training center in Gurugram with 10 flight simulators and 10,000 pilots being trained in the coming years
  • Airbus manufacturing contracts with TATA ASL and Mahindra Aerospace Structures Pvt Ltd to foster more pilots.
  • GMR and IndiGo also signed a consortium to collaborate with multiple patterns in developing sustainable training in the aerospace industry
  • Inauguration of the GMR School of Aviation
  • Akasa Air announced a firm order of 150 fuel-efficient Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The order, comprising of 737 MAX 10 and 737 MAX 8-200 jets will provide the airline a steady aircraft delivery stream through 2032. With this, Akasa Air becomes the only Indian airline in the history of civil aviation to reach an order book of over 200 aircraft within a span of 17 months of commencing operations.

Against the backdrop of thrilling airshows and thought-provoking panel discussions, the Wings India Awards took center stage as Day 1 came to a conclusion. At the Wings India Awards 2024, joint honors were bestowed upon the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru and the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi as the 'Best Airport of the Year.' Spanning various categories, the awards recognised excellence in traffic handling, innovation, sustainability, and more. Bengaluru's Kempegowda International Airport was additionally honored for handling over 25 million passengers annually. Air India received the Best Airline for International Connectivity while Vman was honored with the "Best Leasing Company" award among other awards at Wings India 2024.

Airshow Extravaganza

Wings India 2024 lived up to its theme, "Connecting India to the World in Amrit Kaal: Setting the Stage for Indian Civil Aviation @2047." The airshow at Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad featured a captivating display of creativity, with jets and rotors crafting mesmerising spirals that enthralled a large audience. A Drone Show was also organised after the show that was not just a visual feast but also narrated the story of aviation's evolution.

The Minister also inaugurated a VT-BXH, Air India Express' Boeing 737-8 with the beautiful Kalamkari pattern, at Wings India 2024 as a tribute to the rich heritage of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Brilliant pictures from the onboard cameras of the Global Stars Team air display team

The four-day civil aviation show officially kicked off on January 18 and will run until January 21. Beyond the dazzling airshows, the event, jointly organised by MoCA & FICCI, is a showcase of cutting-edge technology in the aviation sector. It has become a meeting ground for stakeholders and participants from across the globe.

Airbus A350 Unveiled

In a historic moment, Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia unveiled India's first 'Airbus A350' aircraft on the first day of Wings India 2024. The arrival of this state-of-the-art aircraft not only bolsters Air India's fleet but also signifies India's growing stature as a global player in the aviation industry.

Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, officially inaugurated the nation's and Air India's first Airbus A350-900 aircraft

The arrival of state-of-the-art aircraft not only bolsters Air India's aircraft fleet but also signifies the country's growing stature as a global player in the aviation industry worldwide. The coming of the A350 coincides with a period of rapid growth and transformation for Air India. The airline is undergoing a comprehensive transformation aimed at renewing its fleet, expanding its global route network.

On the sidelines of Wings India 2024, Maillard said Airbus will double its sourcing from India to $1.5 billion by the end of the decade from the existing $750 million.

Advancing Aviation Mobility

Several new EVTOLs companies showcased their ideas, prototypes and even mock ups to attract the industry, potential investors as well as the visitors towards their advanced technology. A captivating roundtable explored the transformative impact of drone technology on various sectors. Worldwide, drones are becoming crucial tools, from aiding police stations to delivering crucial medicines. Drone technologies are uplifting lives in agriculture, healthcare, and beyond, making a tangible impact on the aviation landscape.

Drone Display: Several EVTOLs companies showcased their ideas, prototypes and even mock ups at the show

The Advanced Air Mobility – India Conference featured panels on revolutionising transportation with localised eVTOL manufacturing, retrofitting cities with AAM infrastructure, ensuring air traffic management for AAM, and discussing regulatory aspects, including policy, economics, and legal considerations for developing an India CONOPS. Here are some key takeaways from the roundtable on "Drone Technology - Flight to the Future: Drones Revolutionising the Aviation Landscape":

  • Worldwide, drones are transforming the way we work, serving as crucial tools in various applications.
  • In regions like Arunachal Pradesh, drones are facilitating the delivery of medicines, bridging gaps in remote areas and ensuring healthcare accessibility.
  • Drone technologies are uplifting the lives of farmers, introducing innovative approaches to cultivation and sustainability.
  • The NAMO Drone Didi scheme empowers women, making them integral stakeholders in local farming supply chains.
  • From aiding police stations to delivering crucial medicines, drones are making a tangible impact on various sectors.
  • Drones will revolutionise cities, transport, and the environment.

Deals and discussions

Another panel focused on Sustainable Aviation, exploring the transformative power of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in navigating towards greener skies.

Women In Aviation was a powerful session where stories of progress, potential, and empowerment took center stage. The speakers shared their journey and insights on how women are carving their path, seeking specific training, and influencing organisational dynamics despite facing challenges.

A roundtable on Skill Development, Startups & FTO delved into efforts by the Government of India to foster talent in the aviation sector. Speakers highlighted initiatives starting from school days, emphasising the fusion of productivity and knowledge transfer. The discussion underlined the glamorisation of the aviation sector as a key driver in attracting and cultivating talent for future innovation and growth.

(CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT TOP) A 'Global CEOs Forum' was held to discuss matters pertaining to the global aviation ecosystem; In an exhilarating Roundtable on Airlines - Routes and Alliances, global delegates dubbed India the hottest and fastest-growing market; Panel Discussion on Sustainable Aviation; and MRO Panel on the immense potential of the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul sector in India & globally

Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt Ltd (MEHAIR) announced a conditional order for 20 ZeroAvia ZA600 hydrogen-electric engines at Wings India 2024. This strategic move aligns with India's vision for clean flights and involves retrofitting Cessna Aircraft Company Caravan to embrace clean energy. ZeroAvia, working on global certification, collaborates with MEHAIR for fuel supply.

A panel discussion on Travel and Tourism unveiled India's ambitious aim for a $3 trillion tourism market by 2047, contributing 6 per cent to GDP. The discussion highlighted the role of digitalisation in easing travel for foreign tourists and the expansion of Ayodhya to feature 8-9 properties, emphasising the pivotal role of green destinations.

An enlightening panel discussion chaired by Piyush Srivastava explored the immense potential of the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) sector in India and globally. The discussion showcased the sector's readiness to face challenges, regulatory excellence, efficient management of airport rentals, and collaborative policies shaping a robust future.

A roundtable on "Driving Investments & Financing for Multimodal Connectivity" in Airports of the Future highlighted airports as successful Public-Private Enterprises (PPEs) and the aviation sector as highly impactful. While airports evolve into dynamic centers of economic activity, challenges persist in their expansion to contend with increased accessibility and ridership.

(CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT TOP) MEHAIR Places Order for 20 ZeroAvia ZA600 Hydrogen-Electric Engines; Travel And Tourism Panel Discussion; The roundtable on Skill Development, Startups & FTO; and Women In Aviation - a powerful session on how women are carving their path, seeking specific training

In a high-energy roundtable, global delegates hailed India as the hottest and fastest-growing aviation market. The discussion focused on the colossal ecosystem of the industry, highlighting the vital mix of fleet, network, product, and connectivity. Against the backdrop of India's aviation surge, the sector propels forward, ensuring an exciting future.

A Bengaluru-based engineering company unveiled India's first-ever aircraft passenger seat at Wings India 2024, marking a significant step in aircraft design and innovation.

The event aimed to highlight India's prowess in the aviation sector and its emergence as the world's third-largest civil aviation market

Akasa Air has inked a strategic partnership with the upcoming Noida International Airport in Uttar Pradesh, making it the second airline to align with the ambitious project. According to a statement released by the airport, Akasa Air will station aircraft at the facility to facilitate both domestic and international flights.

GMR Aero Technic (GAT), MRO division of GMR Air Cargo and Aerospace Engineering Ltd (GACAEL) announced partnerships with Lufthansa Technik AG (LHT) and Spirit Aero System. A MoU was signed between GAT and LHT mutually agreeing to bring the innovative technology utilised by LHT's Cyclean jointly at Indian airports for the operators in the region. A strategic partnership was forged with Spirit Aero Systems establishing a cutting-edge Aircraft Nacelle component repair service at the GMR Aero Technic Base Maintenance Facility in Hyderabad. This collaboration marks a significant milestone in GMR Aero Technic's MRO journey, establishing its role as a one-stop destination for Nacelle repair services.

Wings India 2024 served not only as a showcase for the latest developments in the aviation industry but also as a catalyst for shaping its trajectory in the coming years.