Investment in infrastructure is key to sustaining the country's double-digit passenger growth.

Alexandre de Juniac

India’s proposed Navi Mumbai airport is unlikely to be ready on time, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO.

Speaking at the Global Aviation Summit in Mumbai, Alexandre de Juniac warned that the mid-2020 deadline for completion was beginning to look increasingly unlikely.

Chief Minister for Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis had earmarked the date for the Mumbai airport's opening, but the IATA chief moved to cool expectations in the Indian capital.

“Constructing an airport in five years itself is ambitious,” said de Juniac, before adding that such a process is not one “that can be hurried”.

If the Indian government wants to sustain double-digit level of growth, big decisions have to be made quicker and faster and implemented more rapidly

Construction of the Mumbai airport has yet to begin, and de Juniac said that even though Istanbul's new airport was completed within four years, that was an example of work in record time.

The IATA Director General added that for India to sustain its current growth—which has been double-digit for four years—it must invest in infrastructure, and quickly.

“If the Indian government wants to sustain this level of growth, big decisions have to be made quicker and faster and implemented more rapidly. That isn't easy for any country, not just India.”

Despite the warnings, de Juniac was positive that the government’s target of 1 billion passengers by 2040 can be achieved if India makes concerted efforts to improve infrastructure, strengthen its airline sector and lower costs on the likes of fuel and taxation.

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