British firms keen to help upgrade Indian airports

New Delhi, (IANS) With India initiating a major programme to upgrade its rickety airports, British firms Monday expressed keen interest to partner with both private and public companies in the area and offer their expertise.

“It is a very exciting time for airport development in India. The UK is in a prime position to contribute,” Jane Owen, director, UK Trade and Investment, said at a seminar on airport infrastructure here Monday.

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“London is the busiest aviation centre in the world handling around 120 million passengers annually. UK companies are here in India to do business. India is the new frontier,” she told the inaugural session of the two-day seminar.

As per the estimates made by India’s civil aviation ministry, the sector has the potential to attract investment to the tune of $150 billion in the next 10 years in areas like infrastructure, communication and navigation facilities.

The seminar has been organised by British Airports Group (BAG), which sees India as one of the major growth aviation markets in the world, with a large number of airport developments and expansions planned.

“India is one of BAG’s priority focus markets,” said Malcolm Trigg, chairman of BAG, whose members have bagged various prestigious projects in India, including at Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai international airports.

“BAG recognises the Asia Pacific aviation market as among the key growth regions in the world and has specific focus on pursuing opportunities for its members at airport developments in India and China,” he said.

With aviation becoming cheaper and accessible, people’s mobility has increased, putting pressures on both airports and airlines. The expansion of low cost airlines has added to the challenge, he said.

“Simultaneously, there is pressure on airports to improve efficiency, deliver higher levels of customer service and improve profitability.”

BAG is a representative body for over 200 British companies involved in airport development, of which 13 made presentations in areas such as master planning, management and design, security and air traffic control technologies.