India's Plan For An 'Airport For The Rich' Actually Makes Sense


India's Plan For An 'Airport For The Rich' Actually Makes Sense

India is planning to establish a business airport to ease its billionaires’ travel plans. The country’s analysts argue that with a population of more than 1.2 billion, and 750 million of whom live on less than $2 day, the move will set the country ahead for optimal growth and even create new jobs.

In a recent interview in New Delhi India’s federal Power Minister, Piyush Goyal, recounted how he had to make over 10 phone calls to have the billionaire founder of SoftBank Group, Masayoshi Son, land in Raipur. This was the case even though the billionaire was in the country for investment purposes.

Airport clearance in India can take up to 14 days. Indigenous Indians travelling can do it for a far shorter time of three days, but that is still terribly inconveniencing for time conscious business moguls. According to Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Asia’s largest vaccine maker Serum Institute of India, "It takes three to four days to get a permission to take off, whereas it should be three to four hours.”

Through the group, Business Aircraft Operators, the billionaires are petitioning the government to redevelop an airport 85 miles off Mumbai into an airfield exclusively for business planes. The field is currently being used by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd as a military airbase.

According to the group’s president Jayant Nadkarni, “It’s about building an ecosystem for general and business aviation, and it’s also about creating jobs. Our industry is in recession. We've seen slowing growth for the last seven to eight years, and this year it will be less than zero percent.”

India’s growth as an economic hub is evident. The country has recorded one of the highest economic growth rates according to Royal Bank Canada and Cap Gemini SA. The country’s wealthy are increasing and so is air travel in the country thanks to base fares as low as 2 cents.

According to Boeing, Indian airlines require 1740 new panes by 2035 valued at $250 billion.

Planemaker Bombardier Inc, which has presence in both India and China, estimates India’s business to grow higher than 900 per cent to 1320 aircraft by 2033 as compared to China’s 600 per cent to 2,525.

Through a market forecast, Bombardier said India’s “business aviation growth potential in the near term continues to be weighed down by high fees, taxes and bureaucracy."

The pressure on the government to ease operational business bottlenecks could see the country convert a military aircraft base to the country’s first business travel airbase. According to analysts, the move would not only make conducting business in the country possible, it would also provide more opportunities for investment and create more jobs.

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