Saturday, March 03, 2018

Aviation sector on a high as UDAN spreads wings

Mumbai: India is rapidly expanding its aviation network beyond its biggest cities, developing airports at 18 smaller and unserved destinations over the past year and seeking to bring commercial flights to at least five more towns over the next few months. “By March end, we aim to operationalise others such as Adampur in Jalandhar and Salem in Tamil Nadu,” a senior official at the stateowned Airports Authority of India (AAI) told ET.
Another 12 airports, to be put up for bids, are in various stages of development and may take more than a year to be ready. To be sure, industry sources are somewhat sceptical about the fate of all of these links, and believe that some may require complex issues to be solved before flights were to begin. Under the UDAN plan, which seeks to democratise and broaden aviation linkage in a nation where flying still remains beyond the reach of many citizens,the government is building airports in unserved or under-served locations, offering incentives for airlines to fly to these destinations.
As part of that plan, several new airports were built over the past year. Among those where commercial flights have begun operation or are ready for take-off are Mundra and Jamnagar in Gujarat (private airports run by the Adani Group and Reliance Industries, respectively), Jalgaon in Maharashtra, Bhatinda in Punjab, Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh and Vijayanagar in Kanataka. The last location is also a private airport operated by the JSW Group.
Among those that could technically be bracketed under W-I-P (work in progress) are Burnpur in West Bengal, Sholapur in Maharashtra, and Utkela and Jeypore in Odisha. The commencement of regional flights to airports such as Kanpur and Allahabad is also pending the resolution of a legal conflict between IndiGo and the Delhi airport operator over the terminal the airline will operate from in the capital. IndiGo has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court, challenging the GMR-led Delhi International Airport's (DIAL) direction to the airline to shift a part of its operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 of the airport.
03/02/18 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times