To woo airlines to operate from 17 almost-idle airports in Maharashtra, the government has chalked out a plan that will allow operators to share seat cost and enjoy various concessions on services.
The government has proposed to pre-reserve up to 30% seats in an aircraft for its employees to make operations feasible. The state has 28 airports — the highest in the country — but only four of them are fully operational. Except for the airports at Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Aurangabad, the others in districts such as Solapur, Kolhapur, Nashik, Karad and Nanded are partly operational.
Last week, the Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation made a presentation before the private operators, unveiling its policy to boost flight operations across the state. “We assured the companies that 20-30% of the seats will be reserved for and paid by the government. We will use these seats for our top-level officials. Although this will increase the burden on the government, it will help operators make the operations feasible,” said an official from the MADC.
The government is expecting aircraft with seating capacity of 8 to 90 to be utilised for commercial services between major cities.
“The operators will be allowed to choose their routes, as long as they include at least one of the 17 airports that are partially operational. The operators are keen to start operations, but are wary because of the small distance between two airports. For instance, the distance between Shirdi and Nashik, Kolhapur and Solapur, Gondia and Nagpur, Nanded and Latur is less than 150km,” the official said.
The private operators will be given other sops such as state police security, fire and health services at the airports, water, power and exemption from airport tariff charges.
Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar reviewed the proposal on Monday. “We are planning to augment the capacity of runways that are less than 1,500m so that bigger aircraft can fly. Gujarat is far ahead of Maharashtra in terms of using existing network of airports for trade and industries,” he said.