Saturday, September 02, 2017

Civil aviation ministry will revive 400 airstrips

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to revive around 400 under-served or unserved airstrips within the next decade, connecting all regions of the country with each other.
The decision follows the successful take off of the first round of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) and the launch of the second round of the scheme last month.

Rajiv Nayan Chaubey, Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has termed under-served or unserved airstrips as potential “gold mines” in terms of their market potential in the country’s aviation industry.

Unserved airports like Bhatinda, Shimla, Nanded and underserved airports like Gwalior, Kadappa, Pondicherry and Porbandar, have already seen operations being started under the first round of the RCS. By the end of this month, 21 more airports would be connected to major airports across the country.

Over 15 unserved airports/airstrips are also under development and could soon see the light of day. Under the second round of bidding for the RCS that is likely to take place in November this year, more  airports are likely to be added.

Places like Rourkela, Jharsuguda, Bilaspur, Kanpur, Solapur have airstrips, but have never seen a flight there. According to Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, the government has earmarked over Rs 40,000 crore for the development of such airstrips into airports for better connectivity under RCS.

Jayant Sinha said, “The Prime Minister and the Ministry of Civil Aviation are very clear that we want all the people in the country to fly and therefore, we have taken this task of connecting rural and remote places with air and making it affordable for people in this country. We have been able to add 31 airports in just three years, while the previous governments in 75 years added fewer than 75 airports. We are committed towards cheap flying and have been working towards it.”

Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, told The Sunday Guardian, “The 400 under-served and unserved airstrips will be developed as and when we have demand from the airlines to operate in those areas. We are ready to provide them all assistance. We have the second round of bidding coming up, under which many such airstrips which are lying vacant would be added for development. We are committed towards providing better and affordable air connectivity to all common citizens of this country.”

02/09/17 Dibyendu Mondal/Sunday Guardian