Addressing an important topic in the aviation scenario, the Routes Asia 2013 commenced its strategy summit by discussing the topic of developing hubs in Asia. Moderated by Nigel Mayes, the panel comprised of John Shepley, SVP Network Management, Etihad Airways; Deepak Brara, Commercial Director, Air India; Anil Srivastava, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tariq H Butt, VP- Airport Marketing and Aero Business, Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL).
Mayes started the discussion by asking the panel about the challenges faced while developing hubs in Asia. Speaking about Abu Dhabi as a hub, Shepley opined that the Abu Dhabi is georgraphically well located and has the advantage of engineering progress that makes it a good hub. For India, he added, unfair barriers need to be lifted for the Indian airline industry to give the industry a platform for competitiveness in network, product and service.
Brara, however, was of the opinion that India has hubs in Mumbai and Delhi which welcome 12 and 11 million passengers a year, but India hasn’t been able to develop them as effectively as the ones abroad because our infrastructure has developed only over the last two to three years. “Hubs are about where the market is. Less than three per cent out of India is connecting traffic, the majority originates here,” he added. He further revealed that alliances are important for development of airlines and hubs.
Srivastava opined that India is strategically located to be a hub. However, strong airlines needed to take up development of the same. “Travelling within India takes as long as travelling to short haul destination so there will be an emergence of multiple hubs, whether primary or secondary,” he stated. Agreeing with him, Butt added that costs are still high and need to come down for profitability to enable this. Bilaterals like the FDI will be key to development, he said.