Civil Aviation Ministry working on 4-pronged strategy to boost airports’ capacity across India: Jayant Sinha

New Delhi: The Civil Aviation Ministry is working on a four-pronged strategy to enhance capacity of airports across India, union minister, Mr Jayant Sinha said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi today.

“We have been spending a lot of time thinking and planning about what we should do about airport capacity, we are working on four different aspects,” said Mr Sinha while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM Civil Aviation conference.

The Union Minister said that while the Aviation Ministry is simultaneously working on enhancing capacity at major airport hubs of Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, it is also working on developing new green-field and brown-field airports and smaller airports in tier III and IV cities.

“We are significantly adding green-field capacity, we are examining brown-field PPP (public private partnership) models for mid-sized airports and we are also looking at very cost effective ways of commissioning and operating smaller tier III and IV heliports,” said Mr Sinha.

He also said that second edition of UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme will help India’s civil aviation sector sustain the current 15-20 per cent growth along with various supportive policy measures.

“Just like the way we have opened up the tier III and IV airports during UDAN round-1, our expectation is that we will open up all helipads, smaller air-strips in the hilly areas of states like Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and in the north-east,” said Mr Sinha.

Adding that it is possible through a supportive set of policy measures to be able to open up more remote locations for air connectivity under second round of UDAN, the Minister said that government expects tremendous support from helicopter operators, NSOPs (non scheduled air operators) and others in this regard.

“We think that just like the fixed-wing order book has started to bulge, our expectation is that we will see a tremendous upsurge in demand for helicopter flying in India and that we think will enable us to take the number of operational commercially available helicopters in India, which is just 200 to a higher magnitude,” he said.

Terming the first round of UDAN as a game-changer, he said that 31 new airports have been added to the aviation network under this scheme, while in contrast, post-independence only 70 airports had been added to aviation network.

The Minister further informed that bulk of these 31 airports (28-29) that have come up under the first round of UDAN scheme will be up and running by September 30. “The few will be remaining because we are still trying to work out some of the logistics and some of the permissions necessary to activate these airports.”

He also said that airlines have placed unprecedented orders for aircrafts seeing the demand and supported policy regimes. “India has the largest order book of any country in the world right now as 850 planes have been ordered.”

In his address at the ASSOCHAM conference, Mr O.P. Singh, director general, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which is looking after security of all 59 airports in the country said, “We are all geared up for the kind of scenario that has been projected and anticipated and we have already prepared a whitepaper on that.”

“We have also been projecting the future requirements in the years to come and with the support of Ministry of Civil Aviation and all important stakeholders, the CISF would play its pivotal role in making the journey very-very memorable and very experienced one,” said Mr Singh.

Amid others who addressed the conference included – Mr Sandeep Jajodia, president, ASSOCHAM; Mr K. Narayan Rao, chairman, National Council on Civil Aviation; Mr Kamal Hingorani, co-chairman and Mr Pawan Kumar Agrawal, senior president, Corporate Finance, Infrastructure Banking, Yes Bank.

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