Plan for four new airports takes off in state, 17 firms in fray

Seventeen top consultancy firms including Ernst and Young, Mott MacDonald, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Edges India are in the race for the four new airports to be built in Gujarat.

On Monday, these firms submitted their bids for these proposed airports that can handle mid-sized airplanes at Palitana, Ambaji, Dwarka and Ankleshwar.

Officials from state aviation department said this was a technical bidding and by February 15, the evaluation report will be out. Thereafter, financial bidding will be held.

At present, the state has 17 airports (excluding the two at Daman and Diu), which makes it the state with the largest number of operational airports in the country.

"Gujarat is going to be the first state to start developing four airports at one go. The purpose is to boost religious tourism as well as providing infrastructure for the industries," said Ajay Chauhan, director of state's civil aviation department.

The Airport Authority of India has already cleared the techno-economic feasibility report for the four proposed airfields located at Dwarka in Jamnagar and Ambaji in Banaskantha district, both famous destinations for Hindu pilgrims, Palitana in Bhavnagar district known for Jain pilgrimage and Ankleshwar, an industrial hub in South Gujarat.

According to state aviation officials, the construction of the airports will be done in phases. In the first phase in the next two years, the construction of the airports is likely to be completed to make them operational. Afterwards, the airports may be upgraded depending on the requirement.

In a bid to boost the aviation industry in the state, the state government slashed the tax levied on air turbine fuel from 30% to 5% in 2011 to attract airlines for starting intra-state air-connectivity. There is also a budgetary provision of Rs 12.70 crore for the development of airports in the state.

The SpiceJet airline is already in talks with the state government for tax benefit to start its intra-state air-connectivity. The airline has got permission for parking its five 78-seat Bombardier Q400 at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad. The airline is set to start its first Surat-Delhi flight from February.

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