Monday, June 11, 2018

Modi govt's plan to get more Indians flying may take more time to take off

The slow pace of fitting out regional airports risks delaying Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious plan to launch more flights connecting smaller towns and cities and get millions more people using air travel.

The programme, flagged off by Modi last year, aims to boost economic growth by refurbishing idled colonial-era airstrips or building newer airports, and incentivising airlines to offer discounted fares to connect them with bigger cities.
travel.

The programme, flagged off by Modi last year, aims to boost economic growth by refurbishing idled colonial-era airstrips or building newer airports, and incentivising airlines to offer discounted fares to connect them with bigger cities.

But work on building new airports in small towns and upgrading existing facilities has failed to keep pace, two government officials said, and could knock off course the government's lofty goal of bringing 100 million more passengers to the skies in the next five years.

Under Modi's "regional connectivity scheme", the government planned to open 31 new airports by the end of 2017, but only 16 are operational so far. Some states have said they do not have enough funds to purchase basic equipment such as mandatory fire tenders, one of the officials said.

In other cases it was taking longer than planned to build air traffic control towers or set up terminal buildings equipped with baggage scanners and security systems, said the official.

The government has now stepped in, and will procure much of the equipment itself and lease it to state governments to get the 15 remaining airports operational by end-June.

"It is a trade-off. We either keep adding more flights or calibrate the existing ones with the capacity we have," the official said.
11/06/18 Business Standard

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