India invites American investment in aviation

Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) With India's aviation sector poised "for breaking boundaries and scaling new heights", Indian Aviation Minister Ajit Singh invited American industries to invest in India taking advantage of "tremendous opportunities" offered by it.

"With ever increasing scope for participation by private sector, we expect significant development in the years ahead," he said at the inaugural session of the three-day US-India Aviation Summit here Wednesday.

"Friends, India is a land of emerging opportunities," Singh said. "Let's build partnerships to draw on these opportunities and drive the engine of India's growth."

"Considering the growth prospects of air traffic, potential for large scale acquisition of aircrafts by the airlines and substantial investment projections, Indian civil aviation market offers tremendous opportunities for US industries to invest in India," he said.

Rapidly expanding air transport network and opening up of the airport infrastructure to private sector participation have fuelled the growth of the air traffic in India, Ajit Singh said.

India is currently the 9th largest aviation market handling 121 million domestic and 41 million international passengers with more than 85 international airlines operating to India and 5 Indian carriers connecting over 40 countries, he pointed out.

Asserting that "over the past decade, civil aviation in India has been scripting a major success story" the minister noted that Indian government has brought in positive initiatives to attract foreign direct investment.

One of the most important initiatives in this direction is to allow 49 percent Foreign Direct Investment by foreign airlines in Indian carriers, he said.

Indian ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao hoped the summit will "discuss threadbare the opportunities for making the US India relationship in the civil aviation sector more robust and sustainable" keeping in mind the "win-win potential" of India-US "relationship while remaining adequately sensitive to each other's interests."

The summit is intended to encourage a high-level dialogue on major issues relating to air traffic management and control in India, and to promote US technical solutions to support India's growing aviation market.

The Summit will build on the results of previous summits held every two years in the US and India, with the goal of assisting India in identifying advanced US technology that will support development of India's aviation infrastructure.

The central purpose of the summit is identifying specific commercial opportunities for US businesses, expanding US trade opportunities, and introducing US technologies and procedures to accomplish Indian aviation goals.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)