Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi said on Tuesday that India, the world’s fastest growing aviation market, will get 50 new airports in the next three years. In a fervent bid to boost regional connectivity, at least 10 will be operational over the next year. The government will assist new businesses in the aviation space with ‘light hand-holding’.
At this point, India 30+ non-oprational airports and over 400 airstrips that date back to World War II. The government will take up these ‘ghost airports’ and do a viability and feasibility check on them.
The minister also signed an MoU with Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis to roll out the regional connectivity scheme. The first state to sign on for the ambitious project.
Several non-functioning airports owned by the Airports Authority of India Ltd in Maharashtra, including Solapur, Jalgaon, Akola, Nanded and Shirdi, will be converted to no-frills airports at an indicative cost of Rs.100 crore. Operations at the Shirdi airport are said to begin in November.
The viability gap funding model works like this – 80% of the cost will be borne by the state govt and the rest by the centre with subsidies for a period of 3 years.
The large-scale plan aims to take flying to the masses and connect unconnected towns. Fare capping at about INR 2500 and funding assistance for airlines have been planned. The funds will be generated by charging a cess on other domestic flights.
On whether any airline has come forward, Raju said most of them have made enquiries and have agreed to the plan.