The civil aviation ministry has firmed up a Rs 10,000 crore plan for low-cost "no frills" airports, for which a formal policy drafted by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will be announced by mid-September. For the next three years, around 100 airports are being identified for regions with potential for tourism or business where no air connectivity exists today.
“This is part of our 100-day plan and the internal target is to start work on 100 low-frills airports over the next three years. These may not all be new, since work may have already started at a few places where we will adopt this
low-cost format. We are looking at basic services in areas with tourism potential or with some economic activity where a small beginning in terms of air services can be made,” a top ministry official told FE.
Not only will the cost of setting up be low, but the
operations as well. To attract airlines and passengers, these low-frills airports will have no landing/parking charges, or passenger/user fees — the ministry is targeting just three-four flights a week initially.
To keep costs low, the land for the airports will be provided by the state governments, while AAI will foot the bill for construction.
“States will be advised to procure additional land for the long-term, like in case a second runway needs to be built later when the airport expands operations. You cannot just shift an airport later in such cases,” a second ministry official said.
As per the policy, the ministry is targeting a cost of
just R90-110 crore per airport, which is sharply lower than the approximately R2,000 crore recently invested by
the AAI each in the Chennai and Kolkata airports just
for their modernisation
The bulk of this, about R70 crore, will be for a greenfield runway that will initially be designed to handle small 20-seater planes or a bit larger 60 seater ATR aircraft
About R20 crore more will be invested in a small terminal building with only a single floor, while some airports may see a further R20 crore investment for city-side amenities like a food court — these could be sub-contracted to private firms.
Interestingly though, there will be a VIP lounge at some of the airports.
“The terminal will have just one baggage carousel and only a few check-in counter. We are thinking that this should only be a departure terminal, and