Government proposes to build low-cost airports in Tier I and Tier II cities

Aiming to promote greater air connectivity in remote areas and Tier I and Tier II cities, the Civil Aviation Ministry has proposed building more low-cost airports across the country — identifying the low-cost business model of Indian carriers in domestic aviation as a key trend.

According to Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, the priority areas of his Ministry included providing greater connectivity to remote parts of the country and development of low-cost airports.

Connectivity to small towns has been one of the major demands by MPs cutting across party lines as well as the need to increase the number of flights and setting up of new airports there. However, the steep rise of air fares has been a matter of great concern and this was recently pointed out by MPs from various parties to Mr. Singh during the meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of Civil Aviation Ministry.

Mr. Singh said apart from five major airports already operational under the public-private-partnership mode, the government has given in-principle approval for setting up of 15 green field airports, including those in Goa, Navi Mumbai and Kannur. The priority areas included reduction of value-added tax on jet fuel and bringing it under the ambit of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, besides setting up an aviation regulatory body — Civil Aviation Authority and a separate Civil Aviation Security Force.

Observing that civil aviation has emerged as one of the most important growth engines of the country during the 11th Plan period, he said the compounded annual growth rate of passenger traffic had touched 15 per cent over the last 10 years. Mr. Singh also listed out recent measures taken by the government like allowing foreign carriers to pick up 49 per cent stake in Indian carriers and allowing Indian carriers to import aviation turbine fuel. He spoke about simplification of procedures for sanction of buildings around airports, saying the government has done away with the system of taking NOC from Airports Authority of India, except in cases when the buildings are to be higher than the prescribed height.

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