Pvt hands to develop 35 defunct airports

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai | Updated: Dec 31 2008, 07:03am hrs
It could be a new year bonanza for air passengers if the 35 non-operational airports are opened to enhance the civil aviation space. The steps taken by the government to open these airports for public use signal so. According to a source at the Airport Authority of India (AAI), defunct airstrips will be up for development as early as March 2009 on a fast track basis, as the government is in the process of approaching private participation for developing these airports. The development of these airports was shrouded in uncertainty due to red-tapism over private players having a stake in the development of these projects.

These airports like the metro city airports will be developed on public-private partnership (PPP) model. The government wants to offer substantial revenue potential to the private players. The ministry is preparing clear guidelines for private parties for revenue sources," said the AAI source. There will be a supportive regulatory framework to address the key concerns of private players in the project, he added. The initial estimate to develop a regional airport would be over Rs 1,500 crore.

Connected to this development, in a recent award function held in Mumbai by the Indian Merchants Chamber, civil aviation minister Praful Patel had hinted at private participation in government-related projects is a new concept in India, but if private parties come ahead for developing airstrips, it will not only enhance regional connectivity but also a booster for the economy.

Defunct airports at Akola, Hadapsar and Kolhapur in Maharashtra; Asanol, Balurghat, Behala and Malda in West Bengal will soon be up for grabs by private parties for development. The AAI has already worked out a master plan for developing Tharsuguda airport in Orissa and has asked the state government to allocate 800 acres of land for city-side development of the airport.