Thursday, April 12, 2018

India plans to build 100 more airports for 1bn flyers by 2035

As India's aviation market expands at the fastest pace in the world, the country plans to increase the number of airports to between 150 and 200 by 2035, from around 100 at present.

The expansion could cost more than $60 billion, with the private sector expected to foot most of the bill. To lure investment, the government hopes to implement policies to ensure that private investors can recover their money and earn solid returns.

"Ultimately, India should have 150 to 200 airports ... [in] the next 15 to 20 years," Jayant Sinha, India's state minister of civil aviation, said in a recent interview with the Nikkei Asian Review.

"In the next 12 months, we will have over 131 active airports," Sinha said, a number that includes airports already under construction.

A soon-to-open facility in the state of Sikkim offers an example of how connectivity stands to improve. The state, which shares borders with China, Nepal and Bhutan, has never had an airport. Travelers to the capital of Gangtok had to endure a bumpy, four-hour-plus ride from the nearest airport in Bagdogra, in neighboring West Bengal.

Now, the newly constructed Pakyong airport, near Gangtok, is scheduled to open in June. This will connect the airport in Kolkata, West Bengal's capital, with 70-minute flights.
12/04/18 Yuji Kuronuma/Nikkei Asian Review