NEW DELHI: Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha on Thursday informed the Lok Sabha that the government has approved the proposal for revival of 50 un-served and under-served airports and airstrips of the state governments, Airports Authority of India, Civil Enclaves and Central PSUs in the three financial years starting 2017-18 at an estimated cost of Rs 4,500 crore.
“At least 15 airports and airstrips would be revived during 2017-18 and 2018-19 each and 20 airports and airstrips would be revived during 2019-20,” he said.
He said the newly approved National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016 has a provision for promotion of regional connectivity by way of revival of un-served and under-served airports and airstrips.
“Revival of such airports is demand-driven, depending on firm demand from the airline operators and where the state government agrees to provide various concessions envisaged in the policy,” he said.
In a bid to reduce operational overhead costs in developing airports and related infrastructure projects by one-third, state-run airport developer, Airports Authority of India (AAI) will chip in using its in-house manpower and expertise instead of subcontracting work to outside agencies.
Senior AAI official said the plan would come into effect from April this year with the start of the new financial year. The AAI is expected to disburse close to Rs 3,500 crore against work contracts to private developers by March 31, the end of the current financial year.
The government has allocated Rs 17,500 to AAI for developing airport’s infrastructure for the next five years. AAI is aiming at saving around Rs 3,500 crore by utilizing its manpower rather subletting work to private contractors.
The government is eyeing big on connecting airports in remote areas within the country under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) project. The project aims at connecting remote un-served and under-served regions of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports.
In the first phase, the government plans to make 60 airports -- 10 owned by AAI and 50 by state governments -- operational over the next three years. This is where the AAI will explore larger role of its own manpower to develop these airports, said sources.
The AAI has received encouraging response to its RCS, where 45 proposals from 11 bidders covering more than 200 RCS air routes have come in. According to AAI, these initial proposals cover as many as 65 airports, of which there are 52 un-served and 13 under-served airports as per the provisions of the scheme.
Early this month industry body, FICCI stated that there are 44 potential airports that could be developed under the RCS policy. The government had said that it would be evaluating it through an independent mechanism to ensure the success of RCS project.
India currently has 76 functional airports and the government aims to add 50 more airports under the RCS project, that is yet to take-off, as airlines are not finding the project viable as they are not sure of the demand of air travel to these remote destinations.