Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, G.M. Siddeshwara on 22 July 2014 proposed to set up three new low-cost airports in Bihar at Muzaffarpur, Raxaul and Gaya. While Gaya will is an operational custom airport, Raxaul will be a non-operational airport.
The development of airports would depends upon availability of land, availability of mandatory clearances, environmental clearances, traffic projections, and provision of support services by the State Government. The support services include access road to the airport, water supply, power supply, services of State Police and State Fire Staff.
Besides, the Ministry of Aviation also decided to develop Kolhapur airport as a small airport among 50 locations identified across the country. The Ministry also recognized the proposed greenfield airport of Solapur in the same category.
The identification of 50 locations across the country for the development of small airports is being considered as a good move towards pending development of the airports. These airports will be constructed in the tourism circuit or backward areas where connectivity needs to be boosted.
Earlier in the fourth week of July 2014, the Ministry also approved for six new airlines. These are Air One Aviation Private Limited, Zexus Air and Premier Air that eventually want to become national airlines. In addition, Turbo Megha, Air Carnival and Zav Airways that want to operate as regional airlines.
The unveiling of these steps by the Aviation Ministry can be seen as revival of regional airline policy but the means of achieving it are falling short of expectations. This is because there is still no DGCA-approved blueprint for no-frills airports, and building these small airports could cost anywhere northwards of 70-80 crore rupees, setting up 50 such airports is no easy task.
Also because of myriad issues and lack of encouragement from respective state governments, the regional airline policy has not been able to take off in the manner envisioned.
Furthermore, instead of tying up loose ends and ensuring that these small airports and airlines are viable, the ministry seems to have shown undue haste in clearing such proposals. The government has paid enough lip service in recent weeks on creating airport infrastructure, boosting regional connectivity and enhancing competition among existing airlines. It has been speaking of setting up hundreds of no-frills airports in Tier II and Tier III towns, offering incentives for regional airline startups and getting jet fuel taxation down. However, until the groundwork is done in terms of policy formulation and infrastructure, it is unlikely these plans will take-off anytime soon.
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When: 22 July 2014