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Centre to develop five airports

Guwahati, Sept. 19: The Centre has identified five airports in the Northeast for development through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode to garner additional resources for development.

The five airports are Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, Rupsi at Dhubri, Lunglei in Mizoram, Agartala and Kamalpur in Tripura.

Official sources said the task force on financing plan for airports, constituted by the Planning Commission, had recommended these five sites.

The Planning Commission had recommended the task force on the request of the civil aviation ministry to prepare a financing plan for the Twelfth Plan period.

The task force has provided a blueprint for the expansion and modernisation of airports across the country, especially with private partnership.

The task force has projected a requirement of Rs 71,000 crore to develop airport infrastructure, of which Rs 56,500 crore is envisaged from the private sector.

For the development of Guwahati airport, an investment of Rs 970 crore is required and the process should start in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

In 2011-12, passenger traffic at Guwahati airport was 22.4 lakh.

In the Eleventh Plan, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had invested Rs 60 crore in Guwahati airport and the work is still continuing.

The report said automation system for air traffic management was being done at the Guwahati airport, which would enhance safety, capacity and improve efficiency.

The civil aviation ministry has also approved the setting up of an office of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security at Guwahati.

Sources said though airports in the Northeast under the Airports Authority of India were still not making money, but over a period of time, the air connectivity in the Northeast grew from 290 flights per week in summer schedule 2007 to 370 flights per week in summer schedule 2011.

Of these 370 flights per week, a total of 113 flights per week are being operated by ATR42/72 type of aircraft for intra-Northeast connectivity.

Air connectivity to Northeast has grown by 46 per cent from 2006-2011, which is higher than growth in total domestic network at 39 per cent.

At present, air services are available to or from 11 airports in the Northeast.

Sources said the ministry of civil aviation had proposed a Rs 100-crore non lapsable Essential Air Service Fund, an exclusive fund to provide direct subsidies to airlines on uneconomical but essential routes to boost air connectivity to remote areas.

Detailed policy guidelines would be evolved after due consultations with the stakeholders.

For non operational airports like Rupsi in Assam, the task force said as these do not have any potential for passenger and freight airports, it could be developed for activities like aero sports and flying clubs as well as training centres for security and fire fighting.

On implementing the financing plan, it said it would require periodic review and financing.


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