Govt to spend Rs1,000 cr on three J&K airports
The government will spend about Rs 1,000 crore over the next three years to expand three airports in Jammu and Kashmir as part of its efforts to integrate the erstwhile state with the rest of the country by increasing connectivity.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which expanded and modified the terminal of Jammu airport in September 2017, has now started work on extending the runway at the airport and sought more land from state government for a new terminal.
Work is also on at Leh and Srinagar airports. According to AAI, a new terminal at Leh and the expansion of the terminal at Srinagar have already been approved and work will gather pace with the government focused on prioritising such projects in the region. The work will be completed by July 2022.
“We have planned a new terminal building at Leh airport and the project will cost Rs 480 crore. The target to complete the project is September 2021; with 18,000 sq m of built up area, the annual capacity of the terminal will be 1.6 million per annum,” said an AAI official who asked not to be named.
According to AAI, Indian airports have added the capacity to handle 125 million passenger per year, with the state-owned airports developer itself adding 80 million. The current capacity of all airports in India is 378 million; terminals worth R 2810 Cr have been commissioned since 2014.
“The terminal expansion at Srinagar airport will cost Rs 495 crore. While another Rs 77 crore is being spent on runway extension at Jammu airport. We have planned to spend Rs 25,000 crore in the next five years on airport projects (around the country),” the official added.
Beside working on expansion and modernization of various airports, AAI is also working on creating a list of about two dozen airports that can be privatized and submit it to the government.
In November 2018, the cabinet approved the privatization of six operational airports and said at the time that the airport sector is the top contender among infrastructure sectors in terms of international interest.
Due to the code of conduct that came into force earlier this year on account of the parliamentary elections, the privatization could not be cleared by the cabinet. Soon after returning to power, the Modi government approved the privatization of Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangalore airports. That of the Guwahati, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram airports is expected soon.
The airports that could be privatized next are Kolkata, Chennai, Vijaywada and Tirupati as the government is looking at airports with at least 1.5 million annual capacity.
According to The International Air Transport Association (IATA), India’s domestic market posted the fastest full-year domestic growth rate , by passengers flown, for the fourth consecutive year in 2018.