100 more air­ports for In­dia, says DGCA

Giv­ing a push to avi­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, Govern­ment is plan­ning to build or mod­ernise 100 air­ports over the next few years. speaks to Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion, Arun Mishra, about the ex­cite­ment it has in­fused in the air­line in­dus­try

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TEENA BARUAH now be­ing de­vel­oped. But th­ese will need some in­vest­ment be­fore they be­come op­er­a­tional.

We are look­ing at low­cost, no-frills air­port with a ba­sic ter­mi­nal build­ing and fa­cil­i­ties. The idea is to re­duce the cost of op­er­a­tions, so ser­vices can be started at a lower cost in or­der to build up traf­fic. The in­vest­ment has to be min­i­mum. Apart from that, we need co­op­er­a­tion from other stake­hold­ers. The state govern­ment should pro­vide land and of­fer tax ben­e­fits. The AAI can give free night-park­ing. And when traf­fic picks up, th­ese air­ports can sus­tain them­selves. tremen­dously. AAI is also giv­ing them free night-park­ing and th­ese in­cen­tives are avail­able for sched­uled air­lines. ity of op­er­a­tion is an is­sue. In Goa, the ca­pac­ity is very limited and there is a lot of de­mand, but we will soon get a new air­port in North Goa.

There are three green­field projects in the North­east, Sikkim Paky­ong, Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh and Chi­ethu in Ko­hima, Na­ga­land. The Sikkim air­port has al­ready taken off and will be com­mis­sioned next year. The char­ac­ter of the land ( be­cause of un­even ter­rain) is such that air­ports can’t be con­structed there. Th­ese will need a lot of in­vest­ments to cut hills and will im­pact the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment some­what. An­other way of in­creas­ing NE con­nec­tiv­ity is helicopters, but it is a very ex­pen- sive mode of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and is not sus­tain­able in all weather con­di­tions, be­cause they do a lot of low fly­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Route Dis­per­sal Guide­lines for Sched­uled Air Op­er­a­tors, all air­lines have to now run 10 per cent of their main routes in ar­eas of North­east, Jammu & Kash­mir and Lak­shad­weep. It’s a dif­fi­cult task for air­lines, but it will boost re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity.

The Agra air­port is func­tional, and it is be­ing used by Air In­dia. But again, it’s a de­fence air­field, so there are con­straints. You have to have your own ter­mi­nal build­ing and the re­quire­ment of the de­fence take prece­dence over civil avi­a­tion. Hence, flights can get de­layed.

The In­dian mar­ket is bound to grow. We have a huge mid­dle-class which is just wait­ing to travel by air, so we need to make some en­abling cir­cum­stances, so that peo­ple can start fly­ing. But for that, there has to be poli­cies that pro­mote avi­a­tion. Right now, tax­a­tion and ATF ex­penses com­prise 40- 50 per cent cost of air­lines. Also, main­te­nance and re­pairs or­gan­i­sa­tions should be en­cour­aged to set shop in In­dia, as a lot of air­lines go abroad for main­te­nance. We also have a chal­lenge of hu­man re­sources, hence we are plan­ning to start Masters in Avi­a­tion Man­age­ment in our up­com­ing civil avi­a­tion univer­sity in Fur­sat­ganj, Rae­bareli. It should be op­er­a­tional by next year.

Arun Mishra

Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion

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