Sunday, August 06, 2023

‘Gold plating’ of airports not a golden idea! Parliamentary panel favours cost-effective development for affordable air travel

A Parliamentary Panel, headed by Rajya Sabha MP Sujeet Kumar, has emphasised the need for cost-effective development of infrastructure at airports to ensure that air travel remains affordable for the common man. The panel rejected the concept of “gold plating” of airports, which refers to the incorporation of expensive and unnecessary features that drive up project costs.

According to the panel, the common passenger is the most crucial stakeholder in the aviation sector. As the economy grows, their aspiration and need for air travel will deepen. In line with the government’s national civil aviation policy, the focus should be on affordability and sustainability. User charges at airports should be competitive with those in the Asia Pacific region.

While acknowledging that quality airport infrastructure is vital for the country’s international competitiveness and attracting foreign funds, the panel believes that opulent features and unnecessary expenses should be avoided. Instead, airport terminals should focus on providing comfort and a hassle-free journey for passengers.

The report highlighted India’s resource-constrained status and recommended that the government prioritise cost-effective modernization of airports, both those run by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and privately operated ones. Utilising technology efficiently can help reduce operational costs.

The government’s vision, as outlined in the National Civil Aviation Policy, is to create an ecosystem that makes flying affordable for the masses. The panel urged the government to ensure that cost-effective services are provided to passengers and airline operators, keeping the cost of travel within reach of the common man.

06/08/2023 Financial Express

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