Improving passenger amenities, promoting cargo handling facilities and early operationalisation of 56 new airports under UDAN scheme will be the focus of the civil aviation ministry, said Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, who took additional charge of Aviation Ministry earlier in the day. He said India is recording a better health in passenger growth as compared to China, which is the largest aviation market in the world. "We want to focus on improving passenger service and connectivity.
There are 56 new airports sanctioned under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, so now we want to make sure that they become operational as soon as possible and this again will improve connectivity and create a huge exponential demand for aviation market. So we are trying to work on that," Prabhu told PTI in an interview. Speaking on the priority areas, he said there is a huge potential in air cargo services within India as well as for exports specially with regard to transport of perishable agricultural commodities. The minister stated as much as 30 - 40 per cent of fruits and vegetables perish every year before they reach the market, "so we want to process them and export them" and for that air connectivity is necessary. Further, he said improving air cargo activities would compliment the commerce ministry's aim to boost agricultural exports. He added passenger traffic is growing at 16-20 per cent, "which is unprecedented in the world". Passenger traffic growth rate in China, which is the largest aviation market, is below that of the India, he said. Soon after taking charge, Prabhu held a meeting with senior officials from the ministry, DGCA, AAI, Air India and Pawan Hans, among others. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha was also present. Prabhu has been given the additional charge of Civil Aviation Ministry following the resignation of TDP leader Ashok Gajapathi Raju from the post last week.