PLAN TO DOUBLE AIRPORTS
As per the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, the government plans to double the number of airports in India over the next two to three years in a bid to serve the largely untapped domestic aviation market which has seen an increase in passenger traffic. “Our party in its 2014 election manifesto announced the UDAN scheme, under which we have to expand the number of airports. The fact is we have 75 airports with scheduled services. We want to double that number in the next two to three years,” he said.
The government on July 1, 2016, had unveiled a draft UDAN scheme to make flying affordable for citizens. The Minister said the government would raise 400 crore to run the UDAN air connectivity scheme. The government was asking airlines to bid for these routes that provide connectivity to other major airports. Airlines that bid with the lowest rates would be awarded the route, he said. The scheme was aimed at developing regional routes that are “underdeveloped” with increased profitability, he said. “When bids are finally given out in January 2017, we will create an entirely new regional market,” he said.
Stating that 14 crore people take flights, compared with 13 crore people who use airconditioned rail coaches every year, he said that air passenger growth in India averaged around 10-11 per cent over the last decade. On expansion of airports, he said that most airports across India face “capacity challenges”. “We are working towards Chennai to be a global airport. Along with Chennai, we are looking at Bengaluru and Kolkata.