The Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to spend Rs 25,000 in the next five years to expand and modify existing terminals. This is an effort to revive the civil aviation sector, which has been severely disrupted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in India.
The aviation sector in India, according to the press release, incurred a loss of about Rs 19,564 crore and Rs 5,116 crore respectively in the financial year 2020-21. “Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, scheduled domestic operations were suspended with effect from March 25, 2020, which were subsequently resumed in a calibrated manner w.e.f. May 25, 2020 with 33% of the capacity and fare capping to ensure that airlines do not charge excessive fare,” it said. “Evaluating the emerging scenario of the COVID-19 pandemic, the capacity restrictions have been relaxed with effect from October 18, 2021, and the domestic operations have been restored without any restrictions of the capacity.”
The MoS for Civil Aviation Gen. Dr VK Singh, in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, said the spending is part of several measures being undertaken by the Centre to revive civil aviation in India in the wake of severe disruptions caused by the pandemic. It will include the major expansion of three public-private partnership (PPP) airports in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru for Rs 30,000 crore by 2025. An investment of Rs 36,000 is also in the pipeline for the development of new greenfield airports across the country under the PPP mode. The Centre, in August this year, gave its approval for the setting up of 21 greenfield airports.
“So far, eight Greenfield airports namely, Shirdi in Maharashtra, Durgapur in West Bengal, Pakyong in Sikkim, Kannur in Kerala, Orvakal in Andhra Pradesh, Kalaburagi in Karnataka, Sindhudurg in Maharashtra and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh have been operationalized,” VK Singh said.
The ministry said a conducive aircraft leasing and financing environment has been enabled and highlighted that the number of freighter aircraft deployed by Indian carriers has increased from seven in 2018 to 28 in 2021. “As a result, the share of Indian carriers in international freighter movements to and from India increased by 2% to 19% over the last two years.”
Moreover, the government has released over Rs 2,062 crores for the revival of unserved and underserved airports, heliports, and waterdrome of State Government, PSUs and AAI etc. from April 2027 to October 2021. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has introduced a new mode of transportation – seaplane operations from water aerodromes under UDAN-3. A total of 14 water aerodromes, till date, have been identified in the states of Gujarat, Assam, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep.