AAI asks states to draft plans for new airports

New Delhi: Aiming to operationalise 225 airports across the country by 2020, the Airports Authority of India has asked all state governments to prepare plans and create inventory of airports, helipads or even unused airstrips which they want to develop and upgrade.

India has 456 airports and airstrips spread all over, with many of them built before or during World War II.

Developing these non-metro airports to enhance air connectivity in the hinterland is part of Airports Authority of India`s (AAI) plan to reactivate, upgrade and modernise at least 225 airports by 2020, way up from 84 airports which are currently operational, AAI Chairman V P Agrawal told PTI here.

The state governments have been asked to prepare prospective plans to develop airports or helipads in their respective regions, prepare an inventory of airstrips, helipads and airports and forward them to AAI.

Depending on the traffic density forecast and possibilities of non-aeronautical revenue exploitation by using surplus land and connectivity with state capitals, the AAI would develop airports at these Tier-II and Tier-III cities, he said.

These works could be taken up either through PPP mode or in collaboration between AAI and state governments or through complete privatisation, he said.

On the two major metro airports it is developing, he said the plush new airport at Chennai is likely to be inaugurated next month, while the one at Kolkata would be completed for launch before October.

AAI has already developed 35 non-metro airports and completed upgrading of another 21, as it is carrying out work in six more at present.

In Jharkhand, the state government has already given free land for developing an airport at Deoghar, along with Rs 50 crore as earnest money. The Planning Commission has also given a matching Rs 50 crore for starting work, Agrawal said.

The government has given in-principle approval to set up greenfield airports at Mopa (Goa), Navi Mumbai, Shirdi, Sindhudurg (Maharashtra), Durgapur (Bengal), Shimoga, Hassan, Gulbarga, Bijapur (Karnataka), Kannur (Kerala), Pakyong (Sikkim), Datia (Madhya Pradesh), Kushinagar (UP) and Karaikal (Puducherry).

It has also received proposals for setting up such airports at Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Dwarka (Gujarat), Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), Ludhiana (Punjab), Ongle (Andhra Pradesh), Solapur, Bolera (both Maharashtra), Rumari (Assam), Rohtak (Haryana), Alwar (Rajasthan) and Bellari (Karnataka).

Partapur town in western Uttar Pradesh, situated in the political heartland dominated by Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh`s party RLD, may soon see a full-fledged airport coming up if the AAI`s plans are executed.

Partapur is home to the Ambedkar airstrip that is proposed to be converted to an international airport. The Uttar Pradesh government operates several of its flights from there.

This town in the Meerut district, as well as Jewar in Greater Noida, are among several non-metros where airports are being proposed to be developed by the AAI through PPP.

The issue of Jewar is before a Group of Ministers as the GMR-led Delhi International Airport Limited has used its Right of First Refusal since the proposed airport would fall within the 150 km ambit of the IGI airport. Partapur airstrip also falls within that distance.

Confirming that a proposal to develop the Partapur airstrip was under consideration, Agrawal said the plan to reactivate it and build a full-fledged airport would cost around Rs 250 crore.

To begin with, mid-sized planes like Canadian Regional Jets and turbo-props would be able to operate from there. In Uttar Pradesh, a new terminal building was opened at Lucknow airport yesterday.