Helicopter ops in India well below the country's potential: Puri

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Bengaluru, Feb 3 (PTI) Helicopter operations in the country are well below its potential and their requirement is rising in multiple areas including tourism, mining, corporate travel and medical services, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said Wednesday.

'Currently, the helicopter operations in India are well below the potential of a country as large as ours. The total number of helicopters in India are around 250,' he said in a video message to a seminar organised by industry body FICCI here at Aero India 2021 exhibition.

'Brazil has around 1,250, Australia has around 2,000, the US has more than 14,000. There is a growing requirement of helicopters for civil use in tourism, mining, corporate travel, air ambulance, homeland security, air charter, etc,' he added.

He said that while big established airlines across the world are in red, the fleet strength of Indian carries has increased from 669 in March 2020 to 713 in November 2020.

'This fignure will go beyond 2,000 in the next few years,' he mentioned.

The minister also said the total air cargo handled in India in December 2020 was 91 per cent of the figures clocked in December 2019.

Indian aviation sector has been significantly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with various airlines taking measures such as firing people and cutting salaries during 2020.

Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola in his speech at the event said that long-haul sectors to the US and Europe from India provide a big opportunity to the Indian carriers as their share currently is less than 15 per cent on these routes.

He said COVID-19 has given an opportunity to the aviation sector as people will now like to travel from point to point and not through hubs.

'The old concept that we want to travel through hubs and all is disappearing,' he said.

Before the pandemic, a significant amount of long haul air travel from India was through hubs like Dubai and Singapore.

'We want airline to acquire bigger planes...We are working on air services agreements so that we can provide a level playing field to our carriers,' he said.

Air services agreement is signed between two countries to fix the number of flights each country's carriers can operate. The agreement also fixes the number of cities these flights can operate to. PTI DSP TIR TIR