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5 airports to come up in Maharashtra still await bidders

Ratnagiri, Gondia, Sindhudurg, Amravati and Solapur airports are part of the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme — UDAN

mumbai Updated: Apr 29, 2018 00:37 IST
Neha LM Tripathi
Neha LM Tripathi
Hindustan Times
A senior Airports Authority of India official said the government cannot develop any airport unless demand is seen and bidders bid for it.(REPRESENTATIONAL PHOTO/HT FILE)

Five of the 10 airports the Maharashtra government had announced would be developed in the state about two years ago as part of the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme — Udey Desh ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN) — are still awaiting bidders even after allotting routes in two rounds.

UDAN is part of the National Civil Aviation Policy that was announced in 2016, with an aim to make air travel affordable and widespread. A first-of-its-kind initiative, it is aimed at “stimulating” regional connectivity in the country through a “market-based mechanism.”

The Maharashtra government in 2016 had signed an agreement with the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to develop 10 airports in the state under UDAN.

A senior Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited (MADC) official said, “Bidding processes are to be taken by the government. Most of the airports are awaiting bidders. We are ready to offer our services to the airports, but at first, bidders should bid for them.”

The cabinet had decided to develop Shirdi, Amravati, Gondia, Nashik, Jalgaon, Nanded, Solapur, Kolhapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg airports in the first phase, of which Shirdi and Nanded are state government-owned.

Currently, Nashik, Nanded, Kolhapur and Jalgaon airports are functional. However, the Ratnagiri, Gondia, Sindhudurg and Amaravati airports are yet to come up. Though the infrastructure work of Solapur airport has been completed, operations have not begun after the AAI detected a chimney to be an obstruction in the flight path.

A senior AAI official said, “Sindhudurg is a new airport, unless it is constructed it cannot be eligible under UDAN. Ratnagiri is a coastguard airport and the government expects it to be available for UDAN only in 2019. Amravati is awaiting bidders. An airport cannot be developed under UDAN unless an airline asks us for allocation of route. It is after this that we award the route to them. We cannot develop any airport unless demand is seen and bidders bid for it.”

First Published: Apr 29, 2018 00:37 IST