To ensure better regional connectivity across the country, 50 new airports would be constructed in the next three years at an average cost of Rs 100 crore, Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in an interaction with reporters on Tuesday. The revival and the construction of new airports would be a mix of tourists and non-tourists belts.
We want to convert the wish list into a work list. India is the fastest growing aviation market and we would like to keep the momentum going.P Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Civil Aviation Minister
Maharashtra would most likely become the first state to sign up for an agreement. Other states are also on board, the minister said.
Along with building new airports, the government also plans to start operations on the non-operative airports, Raju said.
Currently, India has about 31 non-functioning airports in the country. The government plans to put these non-performing assets into use, “We plan to start operations in about 10-15 of these 31 airports by next year.”
As part of the plan, existing air strips in certain regions of Maharashtra including Solapur, Kolhapur, Jalgaon, Gondia Akola, Nanded, and Shirdi will be developed into functional, low-frill airports, the minister said.
The regional connectivity model will be based on the viability gap funding, under which 80 percent of the cost will be borne by the central government and the rest by the state government.
In order to ensure that the airlines operating on regional routes are economically viable, “there will be a lot of hair cut all around in the areas of taxation, and services,” Raju said. The civil aviation ministry has reached out to states to reduce the value added tax on airline turbine fuel to make sure that the airlines can function in a conducive environment. The minister has also proposed a cess on domestic aircrafts in order to fund the scheme.
On whether any airline has come forward for the plan, he said most of them are in talks with the government.