Friday, August 09, 2019

India spent Rs 36 crore in 2018-19 on 27 airports where not a single flight takes off

New Delhi: The Modi government ran up a bill of Rs 35.67 crore in 2018-19 for the upkeep of 27 ‘ghost’ airports from where no flights take off, an RTI query has revealed. These 27 are among a total of 31 non-operational airports in the country. There are another 15 airports that are operational but no scheduled flights operate from there.

The AAI manages 136 airports/civil enclaves (CE) but technically only 90 of them are operational at present. A CE is an area at a military air base allotted for the use of commercial airlines.
This information was shared by the directorate of finance and accounts, AAI, in reply to an RTI query seeking information on airports, number of non-operational airstrips as well as expenditure and losses incurred by non-operational airports in 2018-19.

The RTI has given a list of 31 non-operational airports managed by the AAI and shared losses incurred by 27 of them in 2018-19, saying that the remaining four are new ones.

These 27 non-operational airports were built at a cost of Rs 40.69 crore.

Even though non-operational airports do not handle flights, they need to be maintained, their staff paid, and depreciation accounted for.
“We are trying to initiate air routes in some of the ghost airports. But airlines will only operate if there is a good demand from flyers. An airline cannot be instructed or forced to do so,” said a source at the RTI cell of the AAI.
Rajiv Jain, spokesperson of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, said the government has already planned concessions on parking charges for aircraft at ghost airports to attract airlines.

“The AAI has been making efforts to start operations in all of these airports using market-based bidding under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS), slot coordination meetings, discussions with stakeholders and implementation of incentive schemes,” Jain added.

Under the RCS, also known as UDAN or Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik, airlines compete to win subsidies to operate flights linking small airports with bigger ones.
09/08/19 Ifrah Mufti/Print

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