Govt. keen on expanding aviation sector to smaller cities

With India poised to become the fastest growing aviation market in the world in the next two decades, the government plans to build nearly 200 low cost airports.

Addressing the media in connection with the fourth edition of India Aviation Show, beginning here on March 12, Asok Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, said the government was keen to expand the sector to the smaller cities in a bid to improve air connectivity, especially to Tier-II and Tier-III cities. At least four to five smaller airports from Andhra Pradesh, including those at Kadapa and Rajahmundry, were likely to figure in the list. Describing them as ‘low-frills’ airports, he said no decision had been taken with regard to private participation. At present, the non-metro airports accounted for about 30 per cent of the total air traffic, which was expected to rise to 45 per cent in the next few years. The Airports Authority of India was planning to invest Rs.1,500 crore in developing non-metro airports in the 12th Plan.

Though the aviation sector was passing through hard times, more than 10 applications were pending from various airlines with the government. Basically, the operation costs were very high and almost 70 per cent costs were “dollar-denominated.” Also, the cost of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) was quite high in the country with some States levying up to 30 per cent VAT.

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