Small airports, Rs 1 lakh crore investment: Govt mulls ways to boost air travel
To meet the rising demand, the government is looking at several ways to boost infrastructure in the Indian aviation sector. The government is looking at ways to build new airports, which include massive investment of around Rs 1 lakh crore and development of airports at small parcel of land. Amid growing air traffic, government is facing issues with lesser availability of land for infrastructure projects like airports. To counter this problem, the aviation ministry is in consultation with expert in and outside India to find out ways for creating new airports with less availability of land.
“The ministry in consultation with experts within India and outside are finding out ways of creating new airports with less availability of land,” Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said.
Apart from intra-city helicopter services, the government also plans to invest around Rs 1 lakh crore for the development of airport infrastructure. However, Prabhu did not provide specific details on the proposal.
According to Prabhu, the government is working with state governments to be a partner so that land can be provided by them and infrastructure by the Centre for greenfield airports. Presenting the civil aviation ministry’s four-year report, Prabhu and his deputy Jayant Sinha said passenger trips have doubled from 10 crore four years ago to 20 crore now.
Air traffic movement grew over 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 but airport infrastructure has been unable to match the growing air traffic and number of aircraft, Prabhu said.
On airfares, Prabhu said the prices have come down relatively in the last four years. Fares have been impacted by rising fuel costs, he said, adding, “fares have come down, but of course that is a relative term because with fuel cost going up”.
Among other initiatives, Prabhu said the ministry is framing a cargo policy and suggested that airspace could be utilised at night for cargo traffic as commercial flight movement would be less.
The minister said that efforts are being made for aircraft manufacturing in India. “This is a Make in India programme because if India needs to buy thousand planes in next few years time only for passengers and then cargo, Make in India makes a commercial sense,” he noted.
During his recent visit to the Airbus facility in France, Prabhu had suggested to officials there to explore the possibility of manufacturing planes in India.
According to Prabhu, an event would be hosted in September in India that would bring together stakeholders in the aviation industry from the world over.
Sinha, on the other hand talking about UDAN scheme, said that 31 airports have become operational because of the scheme and orders have been placed for 100 turboprop aircraft.