• India to get 50 new airports in 3 years, says Ashok Gajapati Raju

    India, the fastest growing aviation market, is set to get 50 new airports in the next three years as part of a plan to boost regional connectivity, and of these, at least 10 will become operational over the next one year, said civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, in an interaction with reporters in Mumbai in Tuesday.

    “We are trying to convert the wish list into a work list,” he said.

    Maharashtra is going to be the first state to sign an agreement, said Raju. He is expected to sign the agreement later on Tuesday. Other states are also on board, the minister added.

    As part of the plan, existing air strips in certain regions of Maharashtra including Solapur, Jalgaon, Akola, Nanded and Shirdi will be developed into low-frill airports at an average cost of Rs.100 crore, said the minister.

    The regional connectivity model will be based on the viability gap funding (VGF) for a period of three years, under which 80% of the cost will be borne by the state government and the rest by the government of India.

    The new civil aviation policy cleared by the Indian cabinet on 15 June aims to take flying to the masses.

    The civil aviation ministry had announced a complex regional connectivity policy that seeks to connect unconnected towns with the help of VGF. This will be done by capping fares at about Rs.2,500 for those routes and helping airlines with funding to ply them. The funds will be generated by charging a cess on other domestic flights.

    In order to ensure that the airlines operating on regional routes are economically viable, “the government has worked out a scheme which will have lot of hair cut all around,” the minister said.

    On whether any airline has come forward for the plan, he said most of them are in talks with the government.

    “A magazine referred to me as a flightless bird. Don’t want to be flightless bird forever,” he said. Mike Condon Womens Jersey

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