The Airports Authority of India (AAI) aims to enhance the regional connectivity in India with as many as 50 new airports in the next three years.
In a recent meeting held in Mumbai, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, discussed various plans of the central government under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS). Maharashtra becomes the first state to ink a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the state government, ground operations management (GoM), civil aviation ministry and the AAI for refurbishing and restarting a number of non-operational airports.
Out of the 50 new airports planned over the next three years countrywide, 10 are expected to become operational in the next one year, the minister announced during the press meet.
The chief minister of Maharashtra expressed his gratitude towards the civil aviation ministry in a number of tweets. He announced the start of operations of the Shirdi Airport (a popular spot for pilgrims in west India) from November 2016 with due help from the AAI.
Shirdi Airport operations to begin from November 2016 and AAI to provide all the help required for this project.
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) August 23, 2016
Being the first state under the regional connectivity scheme, Maharashtra will witness the development of the existing non-functional airports owned by AAI in areas such as Solapur, Jalgaon, Akola, Nanded and Shirdi. These developments in the western state to re-establish the no-frills airports will incur a cost of INR 1 billion over the next three years.
In a statement to the press in Mumbai last afternoon, the minister of civil aviation said, “It took us some time to roll out the regional connectivity scheme. The idea was to convert the wish list into a work list.” He went on to conduct an aerial site survey of the upcoming Navi Mumbai airport after the meeting.
— Ashok Gajapathi Raju (@Ashok_Gajapathi) August 23, 2016
The new civil aviation policy which aims to connect the unconnected towns of the country also aims to cap fares at about INR 2500 to encourage further regional air travel. The complex regional connectivity policy is hailed as a positive move by various analysts, especially the move to restart and develop the non-operational airports and airstrips. It is believed that this will not only save establishment costs but will also test the operational efficiency of airlines in the future.
India’s regional air connectivity really needed a critical attention, especially for some states which have no airports at all. With bigger states such as the Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu or Rajasthan looking to improve their better regional air connectivity under this scheme, the government should also try and improve the air routes to the North-eastern states as well.