Sunday, April 29, 2018

While government pushes for Udan, airports handle flyers way beyond capacity

New Delhi: While the government is pushing air travel in small cities and towns under Udan, the Regional Connectivity Scheme, many airports in the country are operating in excess of their capacity.

Some of these are located in state capitals and tourist hotspots such as Jaipur and Port Blair.

According to data from the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation for 2016-17, 13 airports, in Rajkot, Nagpur, Patna, Leh, Dehradun, Bagdogra, Jammu, Port Blair, Imphal, Agartala, Guwahati, Jaipur and Coimbatore, are handling far more passengers than they were designed for.

Some even deal with three or four times their capacity, leading to bottlenecks both in the air and on the ground.These 13 airports handled about 21.53 million passengers against their capacity of 14.73 million.

Airports in Patna and Nagpur, for instance, handle several times the amount of traffic they were designed for.

While Patna airport saw 2.11 million air passengers against a capacity of 0.70 million, Nagpur saw 1.89 million passengers against a capacity of 0.57 million.

Ministry officials said that due to the rising number of air travellers and the induction of more aircraft, air traffic in 2030-31 is estimated at 855 million passengers. To deal with this overload, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and other airport operators have initiated several steps, including the revival of unserved and under-served airports and construction of new greenfield airports.

Officials said the expansion and development of airports is a continuous process undertaken by AAI depending on traffic demand, operational requirements and availability of land.

Recently, AAI has taken up the upgradation and development work of airports at Surat, Kolkata, Dimapur, Amritsar, Tezu, Port Blair, Hubli, Belgaum, Kishangarh, Gorakhpur, Jammu, Calicut, Pakyong, Agartala, Guwahati and Trivandrum. The AAI also plans to invest `20,178 crore between 2016-17 to 2021-22 to upgrade airport infrastructure and services.

Currently, there are 98 operational airports in the country. Officials said there is enough capacity at major airports, including the national capital. Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport is not expected to reach saturation for at least four to six years, while the Chennai airport would reach its handling capacity by 2020-21.
29/04/18 Kumar Vikram/New Indian Express