The current economic slowdown and non-payment of dues by domestic and foreign airlines has forced state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) to shelve its plans to upgrade the bulk of 35 non-metro airports for the time being.
According to government data, domestic and foreign airlines together owe (AAI) over Rs 1,100 crore which has left the organisation cash starved, leading AAI to defer its plan.
The modernisation exercise of all the 35 airports including is estimated to cost Rs 6,000 crore. Among these airports are Indore, Bhopal, Ranchi, Raipur, Goa, Amritsar, and Dehradun.
The impact of the slowdown can be gauged from the fact that during April-November, 2008, international passenger traffic has grown by a meagre 9.8 per cent compared to over 20 per cent last year, while the domestic passenger traffic volume by 9.5 per cent.
The AAI is now targeting to upgrade just 10 to 12 important non-metro airports and has decided to defer the upgrade of rest of the airports for which the foundation stones have been laid. “We are yet to recover dues from different airlines. This has also further aggravated our financial needs,” an AAI official said on condition of anonymity.
AAI had aimed to complete the upgrade of some of the non-metros by the end of financial year 2009–10, but that schedule is most likely to be missed.