35 greenfield airports in India by 2010

Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: India will have 35 greenfield airports by 2010 to keep up with the growth of the civil aviation sector, a senior official said here Wednesday.

"We expect 35 greenfield airports in the country to be operational by 2010," Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Chawla told reporters.

"We are investing over $35 billion in developing airports across the country given the fast growing civil aviation market in the country," he said.

Earlier, inaugurating a seminar on 'Developing World Class Airport Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities', organised by the Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism (FAST), Chawla said that renovating and upgrading existing airports and developing greenfield airports were the only solution to meeting the current demand arising out of the fast growing aviation market.

FAST secretary general Gurcharan Bhatura said that India needed airports with world-class infrastructure according to the benchmarks laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

"That is irrespective of the number of aircraft and their size, all departing passengers should be able to complete their normal departure formalities in 60 minutes," he said. "It includes luggage X-ray, airline checking, immigration, customs and security checks."

On arrival, passengers should be able to complete all formalities within 45 minutes and leave the airport, he said.

"The moot point is not the size of the airport or its capability to handle new generation aircraft like A380 or Boeing 777. Rather, it is with regard to its safety, security and efficient handling of passengers, freight and aircraft operations by providing adequate runway, taxiway and terminal capacities and quality service by friendly staff," he said.

V.P. Agarwal, member (planning) of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), said the average passenger air traffic growth in India in 2006-07 was 29 percent while in cargo it was nine percent.

He called for more low-fare airlines to boost the market further.

"Induction of low-cost airlines and cheaper airfares will encourage and attract road and rail passengers to adopt air as a transport mode," he said.

Stating that AAI manages 133 airports including 14 international ones and two joint ventures, he said, "AAI will invest 40,000 crore (400 billion or about $10 billion) in the next five years on developing airport infrastructure."

He also mentioned that rapid vacation of runways and interconnecting all major airports with city centres by metro trains were being planned.

Addressing the gathering, Shailesh Pathak of the Infrastructure Development Financing Corporation highlighted the opportunities existing in public-private participation in airport development.

Representatives of various airlines, aviation training schools, government and other stakeholders participated in the seminar.
Source: IANS
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