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Plan to double airports in 2-3 years: Sinha

The Union government plans to double the number of airports in the country over the next two to three years to serve the largely untapped domestic aviation industry which has seen an increase in passengers, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha has said.

“Our party in its 2014 elections manifesto announced the UDAN (Udey Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme, under which we have to expand the number of airports. The fact is we have 75 airports with scheduled services. We think to double it in next two to three years,” he said while delivering the third Memorial Lecture on G Ramachandran organised by SICCI last night.

The Government on July 1 had unveiled a draft UDAN scheme, fixing an all inclusive fare at Rs 2,500 for one-hour flights to try and make flying affordable for the common man.

Sinha said government would raise about Rs 400 crore to run the UDAN air connectivity scheme. Government was asking airlines to bid for these routes that provide connectivity to other major airports. Airlines that bid with lowest rates would be awarded the route, he said.

The scheme was aimed at developing regional routes that are “under developed” with increased profitability, he said.

“When bids are finally given out in January 2017, we will create an entirely new regional market,” he said.

Stating that 14 crore people take flights compared to 13 crore people who use air conditioned coaches in railways every year, he said air passenger growth in India averaged around 10-11 per cent over the last 10 years. On expansion of airports, he said most airports across India face “capacity challenges”.
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