Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari has said that as a vital infrastructure, civil aviation plays an essential role in economic progress and integration of a country.
After inaugurating newly built International and Domestic Terminals and upgraded Airside facilities at the Chennai Airport here today, Vice President Ansari said: "As a vital infrastructure, civil aviation plays an essential role in economic progress and integration of a country. It has an important role to play in promotion of travel, trade and tourism. It provides speedy access to normally inaccessible areas of the country thereby gives the required stimulus to business activity and economic growth."
"During natural calamities, harsh weather conditions, as in places like Leh, Kargil and the Islands, air transport is the most viable mode. Civil Aviation also makes a vital contribution in integrating the country with the rest of the world," he added.
Vice President Ansari said better air services help to improve the competitiveness of industry and exports.
"By expanding the size of the market, aviation acts as a spur for innovation; increases sales and profits; allows greater scope for exploitation of economies of scales and thereby enhances competition by offering efficient and fast mode of transportation," he added.
Vice President Ansari said the 'air transport in India has witnessed unprecedented growth in the recent past'.
"During the last 10 years, compounded annual growth rate of passenger traffic has been approximately 15 percent. This massive growth in air traffic requires huge investment for construction of new airports, expansion and modernization of existing airports, improvement in connecting infrastructure. I am told that Government of India has already given in principle approval for development of 15 greenfield airports. Airports Authority of India is also upgrading and modernizing 35 non-metro airports in the country. These steps will definitely help in providing a better facilities and connectivity to the citizens in coming decades," said Vice President Ansari said.
"I take this opportunity to congratulate the Ministry of Civil Aviation for its good work in this area. I have no doubt that this improved infrastructure will contribute to the growth, prosperity and development of the country," he added.
Vice President Ansari said 'Chennai Airport is the premier international gateway and air hub for South India, besides being the third busiest airport in the country'.
"The importance of Chennai as a national and international destination is well established. It has attained greater importance in view of India's 'Look East' Policy due to which greater economic and commercial integration with countries of East Asia and South East Asia is taking place at a rapid pace," said Vice President Ansari.
"Consequently, passenger and freight traffic to and from these countries is bound to rise in the times to come. With Chennai being the natural gateway due to geographical proximity, the upgrade and modernisation of the airport is a timely and appropriate initiative," he added.
Vice President Ansari further said 'the existing terminals had a capacity to handle 6 million domestic and 3 million international passengers'.
"With the upgrade and expansion, the new international and domestic terminals can handle an additional 4 million international and 10 million domestic passengers per annum. These terminals have also been equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for comfort and convenience of passengers," he added.
Vice President Ansari commended the Airport Authority of India (AAI) for the outstanding work done in renovating and modernizing the Chennai Airport, especially without hampering regular operations and giving utmost importance to safety of passengers.
"The magnificent terminals are a testimony to excellent job done by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airports Authority of India," he added.
Dedicating the new terminals and the facilities at Chennai Airport to the nation, Vice President Ansari said: "I wish the people of India, especially of Tamil Nadu, and others utilizing the new facilities at Chennai Airport Bon Voyage." (ANI)