Govt proposes to build more low-cost airports

Low cost airports
Aiming to promote greater air connectivity in remote areas, the government proposes to build more low-cost airports across the country, identifying the low-cost business model in domestic aviation as a 'key trend'.

A "key trend" in the business model of domestic operations by Indian carriers was the "rapid shift" towards the low-cost carrier model, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry here today.

The priority areas of his ministry included providing greater connectivity to smaller and remote parts of the country and development of low-cost airports, he was quoted as saying in an official release.

During the discussion that followed, MPs too sought improving connectivity to smaller towns by increasing number of flights and setting up airports there.

The members of the Committee also voiced serious concern over increasing air fares.

Apart from five major airports already operationalised under the public-private-partnership mode, government has given in principle approval for setting up of 15 new greenfield airports, including those in Goa, Navi Mumbai and Kannur, he said.

The priority areas also included reduction of value-added tax on jet fuel and bringing it under the ambit of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, besides setting up aviation regulatory body Civil Aviation Authority and a separate Civil Aviation Security Force.

Observing that civil aviation has emerged as one of the most important growth engines of the country during the 11th Plan period, the minister said the compounded annual growth rate of passenger traffic had touched 15 per cent over the last 10 years.

At the meeting which primarily focused on the issue of airport infrastructure and air connectivity, Singh also listed out recent measures taken by the government like allowing foreign carriers to pick up 49 per cent stake in Indian carriers and allowing Indian carriers to import ATF.

He also spoke about simplification of procedure's for sanction of buildings around airports, saying the government has done away with the system of taking NOC from Airports Authority of India, except in cases when the buildings are to be higher than the prescribed height.

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