India to have 50 more operational airports by 2019

This post was originally published on 24 August 2016.

India, the fastest-growing aviation market in the world, is set to get 50 new airports in the next three years as part of a plan to boost regional connectivity.

According to civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, approximately 10 of them will be put into operation in 2017.

The government, he added, will support newer entrants in the aviation space by “light hand-holding”.

Connectivity to gulf countries

Speaking about connectivity to West Asian countries, especially from Kerala, Raju said seats, which are reserved under bilateral agreements, remain under-utilised on various carriers. Such seats should be put to use better.

Take-over of ghost airports

India has more than 30 non-operational airports and more than 400 airstrips dating back to World War II.

The government intends to take up a number of these “ghost airports”. These facilities will be developed into unpretentious airports at an indicative cost of Rs.100 crore.

“The centre is trying to put all these non-performing assets (NPAs) into effective utilisation rather than investing afresh. Each airport would require at least Rs. 100 crore for construction.” Raju said.

As part of the plan, some of the existing non-functional airports owned by the Airports Authority of India Ltd in Maharashtra, including Solapur, Jalgaon, Akola, Nanded and Shirdi, will be developed into no-frills airports at an indicative cost of Rs.100 crore, said the minister.

Regional connectivity scheme

The regional connectivity model will be based on viability gap funding, under which 80% of the cost will be borne by the state government and the rest by the centre.

The subsidies will be doled out for a period of three years.

“It took us some time to roll out the regional connectivity scheme. The idea was to convert the wish list into a worklist,” Raju said.

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