A cleaner removes excess water from a window at the newly inaugurated Terminal 2 building at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Government Mulls Ways To Build Airports With Less Land Availability

The government is looking at ways to build new airports after factoring in lesser availability of land for such infrastructure projects, amid growing air traffic, according to the civil aviation ministry.

To meet the rising demand, the government plans to invest around Rs 1 lakh crore for the development of airport infrastructure.

"The ministry in consultation with experts within India and outside are finding out ways of creating new airports with less availability of land," Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said today. However, he did not provide specific details on the proposal.

According to Prabhu, the ministry is working with state governments to be a partner so that land can be provided by them and infrastructure by the central government for greenfield airports.

Presenting the civil aviation ministry’s four year report, Prabhu and his deputy Jayant Sinha said passenger trips have gone up from 10 crore four years ago to 20 crore now.

Air traffic movement grew over 20 percent in the first quarter of 2018 but airport infrastructure has been unable to match the growing air traffic and number of aircraft, Prabhu said, terming it a "challenge".

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An Airbus SE A380 aircraft operated by Qantas Airways Ltd. flies approaches to land at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia. (Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg)
An Airbus SE A380 aircraft operated by Qantas Airways Ltd. flies approaches to land at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia. (Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg)

On airfares, Prabhu said the prices have come down on a relative basis in the last four years. Fares have been impacted by rising fuel costs, he said, adding, "fares have come down, but of course that is a relative term because with fuel cost going up".

Among other initiatives, Prabhu said the ministry is framing a cargo policy and suggested that airspace could be utilised at night for cargo traffic as commercial flight movement would be less.

The minister said efforts are being made for aircraft manufacturing in India. "This is a Make in India programme because if India needs to buy thousand planes in next few years time only for passengers and then cargo, Make in India makes a commercial sense," he noted.

During his recent visit to the Airbus facility in France, Prabhu had suggested to officials there to explore the possibility of manufacturing planes in India. The ministry is also examining a proposal to start intra-city helicopter services.

According to Prabhu, an event would be hosted in September in India that would bring together stakeholders in the aviation industry from the world over.

Speaking about the UDAN scheme, Sinha said that 31 airports have become operational because of the scheme and orders have been placed for 100 turboprop aircraft.