The government today gave the green signal for 18 new airports in the country. The greenfield airports, cleared by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), are likely to ease the growing congestion at airports, especially in metro cities.
The growing passenger traffic and inability of airports to expand has led to severe delays and poor on-time performance of airlines in the past two years.
Mumbai is likely to be the key benefactor as a new airport at Navi Mumbai has been given approval. In terms of number of new airports proposed, Karnataka will be the biggest beneficiary followed by Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Surprisingly, the list has no names for projects proposed in Delhi NCR - Jewar and Hisar. The ministry, however, has given 'site clearance' approval to Bhiwadi project (in Rajasthan).
"As per the Greenfield Airports Policy-2008, MoCA accords two stages clearances - 'site clearance' followed by 'in-principle' approval for greenfield airports. MoCA has granted 'in principle' approval for setting up of 18 greenfield airports across the country," says a ministry statement.
While the airport project at Sikkim belongs to AAI (Airports Authority of India), the three projects at Durgapur, Gwalior and Karaikal will be developed by private developers. The remaining 14 airports were proposed by respective state governments.
The combined cost of these project is estimated to be Rs 31,376.45 crore, out of which over 53 per cent (Rs 16,704 crore) will go into building the Navi Mumbai airport. As per the MoCA, the airport projects at Durgapur and Kannur have been completed.
The new airport locations include Pakyong (in Sikkim), Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra), Sindhudurg (Maharashtra), Shirdi (Maharashtra), Mopa (Goa), Bijapur (Karnataka), Gulbarga (Karnataka), Hasan (Karntaka), Shimoga (Karnataka), Kannur (Kerala), Kushinagar (UP), Dholera (Gujarat), Dagadarthi (AP), Bhogapuram (AP), Oravakallu (AP), Durgapur (West Bengal), Gwalior (MP), and Karaikal (in Puducherry).
In the past two years, the ministry has received 14 proposals to set up airports. Out of these proposals, the ministry has given 'in-principle' approval to three projects while airport projects at Bhiwadi and Kothagudem are given 'site clearance' approval.
The inadequate infrastructure has particularly affected passengers in Delhi and Mumbai. For example, Delhi has just three runways. The airlines have been demanding one more airport for a long time. It is expected that the fourth runway will be ready by 2020.
The situation in Mumbai is worse, as per DGCA data. For instance, one in every three IndiGo flights in Mumbai were delayed. The situation is almost similar for most other carriers. The proposal to build an airport in Navi Mumbai is pending since 1997.
In general, flight delays are getting common. In October, for instance, Air India's flight delays of more than two hours affected 27,284 passengers - over two in every 100 it flew last month. The key reason of delays was reactionary (63 per cent). A reactionary delay is when an aircraft delays one flight, it delays all other flights on that particular day. The most telling problem is inadequate infrastructure.