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As Adani Airports’ ambitious airport growth plan takes flight, what remains to be seen is if the Indian ports-to-power conglomerate can establish itself as a dominant player in aviation.

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India’s largest private airport operator Adani Airports will bid for about a dozen more airports in the country to expand its footprint in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, confirmed the company’s chief executive officer Arun Bansal. “India will have 1 billion air passengers by 2040, with passenger traffic growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8.5 percent over the next 20 years,” he said. On their strategy to acquire more airports in the country, Bansal remarked, “Our strategy is simple, to create a scale [of operations]. If the bid condition is right, we will bid.” The Indian government recently privatized six airports — Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram — all of which were won by Adani Airports. Adani currently manages seven operational airports including Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport and is also developing the Navi Mumbai airport in Maharashtra. The airport is expected to handle 90 million passengers per year by 2036. In the first phase, which is scheduled to be completed by December 2024, the airport will have a passenger handling capacity of 20 million. All of Adani’s airports have experienced significant growth in passenger traffic in recent years. The company’s six airports together saw a 92 percent increase in domestic passengers and a 133 percent increase in international passengers. The number of domestic flights increased by 58 percent, while international flights increased by 61 percent.

India has reduced 90,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions and saved approximately $48.6 million on bio-aviation turbine fuel expenses, according to a statement released by the civil aviation ministry. Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA), that allows commercial flights to fly over restricted zones with prior approval from defense authorities, has helped India save cost and emissions. Implementing Central Air Traffic Flow Management (C-ATFM) is also helping airport operator Airports Authority of India to effectively manage air traffic flows, resulting in reduced delays and holding and optimization of capacity, leading to a reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gases emissions. The UN special agency for aviation International Civil Aviation Organization has launched the Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for Aviation (CORSIA) to reduce emissions from international aviation which require offsetting of emissions above a baseline value. “The offsetting requirements under CORSIA for Indian carriers will start from 2027,” the statement read.

Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with RailTel Corporation of India for installation of Artificial Intelligence-based Intrusion Detection System (IDS), to avert train-elephant collisions on railway tracks. The system is based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and existing optical fibers will be used as sensors to identify movements of wild animals at locations and alert control offices, station masters, gateman and loco pilots. It uses a fiber optic-based acoustic system working on the principle of dialysis scattering phenomenon to sense the real-time presence of elephants on the railway track. The AI-based software can monitor unusual movements up to a stretch of 37 miles. In addition, the IDS will also help in detecting rail fracture, trespassing on railway track and alert about disaster mitigation due to unauthorized digging near railway tracks, landslides near tracks etc.

India-based online travel platform EaseMyTrip has partnered with travel fintech start-up SanKash to offer travel insurance and Travel-Now-Pay-Later (TNPL) services. EaseMyTrip customers can now purchase travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost baggage, and other travel-related risks and also avail TNPL services to book their trips without having to pay the full amount upfront. This service allows customers to split the cost of their trips into manageable installments, making travel more accessible and affordable. It will be available to customers who book domestic or international flights, hotels, and holiday packages through EaseMyTrip. “We strongly believe that these services will give our customers more ways to travel securely without worrying about their finances and will encourage them to travel frequently,” said Rikant Pitti, co-founder of EaseMyTrip.

Air passenger traffic in India is expected to rise to 860 million by 2030 and Indian airport operators are projected to report a 26 percent rise in revenues at $3.9 billion in the financial year 2024, according to aviation consultancy CAPA India. “India is forecast to see domestic airport pax rise to 700 million passengers, and international airport pax to 160 million passengers by financial year 2030,” CAPA India said. For 2023-24, air passenger traffic, including domestic and international, is expected to reach 395 million, it said while presenting the outlook for the airports. Out of the total, domestic air passengers will rise to 320 million from 275 million this fiscal. During this period, the international air passenger count will increase to 75 million from 58 million. 

Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines is looking for cooperation with Tata Group-owned Air India as the carrier looks to expand in the Indian market. Currently, the airline is partnering with Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo through a codeshare agreement. Turkish Airlines chief executive officer Bilal Eksi said that it can cooperate with Air India as that would benefit both countries’ tourism sectors. “We are not getting enough (of the Indian market)… we are trying to expand. This is the time for Turkish Airlines to expand operations in India,” he said. He noted that there was not enough capacity between India and Turkey, which is also a wedding destination for many Indians. “We can work together with Air India… can earn together and support both countries,” added Eksi.

The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) is set to give 34 hotels to private players under an operation and management (O&M) model. Additionally, it has decided to give five properties to the government for carrying out other activities as the assets are unrecoverable. It has given one property in pilgrim place Pushkar to the government to develop a trauma center. “We have almost finalized a strategy of reviving the hotels. We will discuss the plan at our board meeting scheduled to take place on March 24. We will release the details after that,” RTDC chairman Dharmendra Rathore told an Indian daily. The corporation has also taken up renovation work at 10 properties which it will run by itself.

The visa application volume from Kolkata has reached 85 percent of the pre-pandemic level, according to a visa outsourcing firm. The volume showed a 160 percent rise in 2022 as compared to 2021, said Prabuddha Sen, chief operating officer (South Asia) of VFS Global, a visa service provider. This is higher than the Indian average as a whole. The growth is triggered by pent-up demand for travel during the pandemic, opening up of international borders and relaxation of Covid protocol, said VFS officials. On a pan-India average, the volume of visa applications reached 80 percent of the pre-pandemic level and witnessed a 140 percent rise in 2022 when compared to 2021, Sen said. Thailand, UK and U.S. were among the most preferred destinations from eastern India, he revealed. 

Short-term rental company Airbnb has partnered with SHEROES — a New Delhi-based women’s networking and enabling platform — to grow its community of women hosts in India. Under the partnership, Airbnb will launch a digital content and training program for six months, which will be accessible on relevant SHEROES community channels. This collaboration will provide training to support members of the social platform who are interested in hosting on Airbnb to harness their passion for hospitality, as well as enable more women in India to travel the world independently. Airbnb, through this partnership, also aims to create opportunities that enhance local ecosystems for women micro-entrepreneurs to grow and thrive. 

Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), that owns the Taj brand, has announced the opening of Ginger Chennai, OMR in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The 99-room hotel is strategically located on Old Mahabalipuram Road also known as Rajiv Gandhi Salai, in close proximity to major tech parks as well as entertainment hubs. The hotel features an all-day diner, a meeting area and a fitness center. “Chennai is the most prominent cultural, economic and educational center of South India and IHCL has presence in this key metropolitan city with 11 hotels across brands. The opening of Ginger Chennai, OMR expands our footprint to cater to the ever-growing demand of the IT corridor,” said Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and chief executive officer of IHCL.


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Tags: air traffic, airbnb, artificial intelligence, capa, carbon emissions, carbon offsets, easemytrip, india, Indian Hotels Company, indian railways, mumbai, rajasthan tourism, skift india report, turkish airlines, visa

Photo credit: Adani Airports will bid for about a dozen more airports in India to expand its footprint in the country. David Wong / Chhatrapati Shivaji Internatonal Airport, Mumbai, India

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