January, 2017

City of Nawabs fast becoming an aviation hub


Credits : Tornos News

(By Prateek Hira. Article originally published in Hindustan Times – 1st Jan 2017)

Lucknow is emerging as a neo-metro with all its development that is now visible and ready to be appreciated. It might be unimaginable for many to digest that Lucknow was a city that once had just a single flight to Delhi operating from nothing more than a large drawing room size airport devoid of any facilities for the passengers or the airlines.

Today aviation is actually a sector that has grown by leaps and bounds, to have two airport terminals and operating direct flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Muscat, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah with more international destinations in the offing.

Places like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Patna, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Goa, Chennai being on the route maps of almost all carriers from Lucknow is enough proof of the growing traffic from and to Lucknow, that still is considered tier two city or perceived as a small town. How else would one explain the upcoming third integrated airport terminal at a cost of about Rs.880 Cr in Lucknow to cater to the growing passenger traffic and so many international airlines eyeing Lucknow as the most promising market for both business and leisure travellers.

Days have gone when air travel was a high-end or an expensive mode of travel. Today air travel is affordable and convenient and has penetrated all the market segments including the lower middle class traveller. In many cases the connectivity by air is much better than that by train, for which India has traditionally been known for.

Recently as a trend, there is a substantial increase in European travellers who are taking straight connections on the international flights and reaching Lucknow via Delhi and then starting their leisure tours from here on, rather than starting from Delhi as was a tradition. We do not see the days far when Lucknow would be connected direct with European cities and figure as a major port of disembarkation.

Lucknow has always been a gateway destination for Buddhist pilgrims from Far East who continue to Sravasti on their Buddhist pilgrimage tours by road or reverse their itineraries ending it in Lucknow with an added leisure excursion to Agra. With the Agra Expressway now open, Lucknow could well be a future port of arrival or departure for the incoming foreign tourists who not only wish to visit the Buddhist sites in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar but also travel to Agra for Taj Mahal. Another segment is that of repeat tourists, who have presumably done Delhi and Rajasthan, now on their subsequent trip they wish to indulge in something lesser-known or niche, for them too Lucknow airport opens up great opportunities.

The concept of intra-state airlines floated by the state of Uttar Pradesh would be yet another milestone to boost the ongoing development in the state and help even the smaller cities and towns be connected by air with the rest of the country. Central government’s scheme of reviving unused airstrips or un-served airports in the country in collaboration with the states will also benefit the aviation sector in the state of UP as a whole and help connect the forlorn cities with the rest of the country.

Aviation has played a pivotal role in strengthening economy of a place. There are economies that rely on aviation. Dubai for example has a contribution of about 27% through aviation to its GDP (Source: PwC). Singapore and Thailand both have a 8.9% contribution to their GDPs and India stands at 1.5% (Source: ATAG). In addition to this, growth of aviation also catalyzes overall economic growth and development of a city. Lucknow is one city that is growing at the same pace as its aviation and vice versa, thereby promising it to be a great economically active city of the north.

Large corporate and business houses have begun relocating to Lucknow or making Lucknow a part of their expansions, not only due to attractively low capital and operational costs but for a great air connectivity which is extremely important for them to operate and with just 50 minutes of air travel and multiple day long flight options between Delhi and Lucknow, Lucknow is a great choice indeed.

So much happening in the air and on the ground, the capital city of Lucknow is emerging as a neo-economic, neo-IT, neo-tourism, neo-sports, neo-educational and neo-medical hub of the country and most of all Lucknow happens to be the second most happiest city of India.