The Centre is scouting for a location for a second airport in Kolkata, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Wednesday.
“I have been trying to reach out to the West Bengal chief minister. Bengal is a key state in terms of our strategy related both to the Northeast (India) and Southeast (Asia)…. I am looking forward to a location for a second airport in Kolkata as well,” Scindia said during a programme organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce.
Most metropolitan cities need additional airports, the minister said in his virtual address at the annual session and AGM of the chamber.
“Our metro airports are pretty much bursting at the seams, and with close to 7.5 crore travellers in Delhi, almost 5 crore travellers in Mumbai… I think we need to look at new airports in all our metros,” Scindia said.
But aviation industry insiders cast doubts on the feasibility of a second airport in Kolkata since the city’s lone airport was far from realising its optimum capacity.
On Wednesday, The Telegraph reported that Kolkata airport, despite opening up all facilities, had far fewer passengers and flights than what it used to have before the Covid pandemic. The dip has made the authorities defer an expansion plan for the terminal even further.
Since April this year, around 8 million passengers have used the airport, prompting officials to apprehend that the number would be nowhere near pre-Covid times — around 22 million fliers in the financial year 2019-20 — by March 31.
Even before the pandemic, Kolkata airport lagged much behind Delhi and Mumbai airports in terms of passenger volume and air traffic.
“Ideally, both the state and central governments should focus on increasing the passenger volume and number of international flights from Kolkata airport. The number of international destinations that have direct connectivity with Kolkata is negligible,” said an airport official.
On Wednesday, Scindia said his ministry was committed to improving connectivity on both regional and long-haul international routes. The government has set a target of raising the number of airports to 220 by 2025 from 136 at present, he said.