Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Tamil Nadu to sign deal for making three more airports operational

Chennai: Setting the stage to make three more airports operational in the State, the Tamil Nadu government is likely to sign an MoU with the Civil Aviation Ministry and Airports Authority of India under the Central government’s Udan scheme, aimed at improving regional air connectivity.

Hosur, Neyveli and Salem, selected under the first phase of the scheme, are industrial towns, which either had airports that were once operational or just runways no longer in use. The scheme aims at renovating these infrastructures into airports and operate flights.

However, implementation was delayed as the State government had reservations over a few issues, including the financial burden it has to incur for the subsidies to private aviation companies operating flights to these smaller towns.

Sources told Express that all the issues have now been addressed and the State government is now keen on signing the MoU.

The Tamil Nadu government had earlier raised concerns over 20 per cent expenses it has to bear on the subsidies and compensations paid to the private airlines to encourage them operate services. The state was one of the few to have not signed the MoU.

According to S Sreekumar, regional executive director, southern region, Airport Authority of India, the MoU might be signed in a couple of days and the Salem airport is expected to become operational by the end of this month. Salem airport was operational between November 2009 and July 2011 and was shut due to poor passenger patronage.

“We have all the required infrastructure. Trujet, a low cost airline, will be operating from Salem under UDAN by the end of this month or next month,” Sreekumar told Express. The official was hopeful that the State government would make arrangements for providing adequate police personnel as well as fire services.

Sreekumar, who had played a key role in developing Tiruchy airport during his stint as airport director from 2002-2009, said ‘Obstacle survey’ from Neyveli Lignite Corporation was awaited for the Neyveli airport.

On the status of Hosur airport, Sreekumar said a final decision was yet to be taken. Puducherry airport would be put into operation once Spicejet is ready to operate services.

According to Sreekumar, regional airports are being taken up at a time when major airports are nearing saturation level. “It will delay the saturation level for time being,” he hoped.
07/06/17 C Shivakumar/New Indian Express
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