Friday, November 17, 2017

UDAN: Airfields set for checks

New Delhi: Aviation officials will soon embark on inspections of airfields at 64 new destinations set to find a place on India’s aviation map under the government’s regional connectivity scheme.

Teams comprising officers from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) would visit the 64 unserved and under-served airports for which bids had been received in the second round of bidding as part of the UDAN scheme. Their task would be to ascertain if the airports were ready to cope with commercial flight operations.

“We are preparing a team of AAI and DGCA officers. The letters were sent this week that they should form teams and go visit these airports,” a senior official at Ministry of Civil Aviation told The Hindu.

“Last year, we faced some problems as we did not anticipate some of the issues in the last round of bidding.”

A total of 18 out of the 43 unserved/under served airports that were to be connected under the first round are in the process of being upgraded. “They require significant upgradation,” the official said, adding that each airport had a different completion date. “Some of these will be completed soon. Within four months all of these would be completed.”

The Civil Aviation ministry would hold a meeting next week to take stock of the progress at these airports.

The officials from AAI and DGCA had been given a “template, based on our last year’s experience,” said the official, who did not wish to be identified. “The team will go and check the runway, the building, and what all infrastructure is needed.”

The teams would be expected to submit a preliminary report to the Ministry before the close of counter bidding on December 4.

“So between December 4 and December 14, we will see that if there is some airport which isn’t feasible at all, maybe we will not award that airport,” the official said.

The cost of upgrading these airports was being borne by the Central government.
17/11/17 Yuthika Bhargava/The Hindu