Having identified 50 non-metro cities and remote locations across the country for building low-cost airports, the Centre is shortly coming up with a policy on the matter in which state governments would have a major role to play.
The Civil Aviation Ministry would soon finalise names of the first five of these 50 no-frill airports to be taken up first, official sources said here today.
The policy, which is being given final shape by the Ministry, is likely to put the onus of providing land, water and electricity free of charge to these airports on state governments, which would also have to grant tax concessions or exemptions for these projects.
It comes in the wake of the BJP-led government's announcements that these airports would be built on a private -public partnership (PPP) model to provide air connectivity to non-metro cities and those in remote areas.
Apart from the facilities to be granted by state governments to these airports, the government would grant concessions to airlines operating there, such as exemption from paying landing, parking, navigation, night parking and fuel throughput charges, among other things.
In June last year, the UPA-II government, while finalising infrastructure projects for 2013-14, had also decided to build low-cost airports at 51 cities and towns across the country.
Under the decision taken by the Manmohan Singh government, state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) was to have set up these airports at towns and cities spread across Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
There are over 125 functional airports and another 400 air strips, of which many can be developed as full-fledged airports, the sources said.
However, official data shows that of these 125-odd functional airports, 93 were loss-making and only ten profitable. The loss-making airports are mostly located in Tier-II cities, apart from some state capitals.
Connectivity by low-cost airlines to the smaller towns and cities could beef up the financial fortunes of these small airports, the sources said.
Observing that growth in traffic was concentrated on certain major routes and not all across the country, they said though air tickets were now available at competitive rates due to fierce competition among airlines and air traffic was growing at a rapid pace, almost 70 per cent of the population does not have air connectivity and many cannot afford to fly.
The policy would aim at making air connectivity available at a cheaper rate, the officials said.
On the names of the 50 proposed no-frill airports, they said the list was likely to remain the same as decided by the previous government, barring a few changes in some states.
As per the UPA-II government's decision last year, the 51 low-cost airports were to have come up at Vijayawada, Nellore, Kurnool, Kadapa, Nizamabad, Tirupati, Anantapur and Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh, Dhanbad, Bokaro and Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, at Muzaffarpur, Chapra and Sasaram in Bihar, at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Firozpur in Punjab, at Agra, Allahabad, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Meerut, Aligarh, Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar and Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh.
Tezu, Bomdila and Along in Arunachal Pradesh, at Silchar, Jorhat and Tezpur in Assam, at Gwalior, Singrauli, Burhanpur, Khandwa, Jabalpur, Sidhi and Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh, Brahmpur, Rourkela and Kendujhar in Odisha, at Ajmer, Kota, Bhilwada and Alwar in Rajasthan and at Kolhapur, Nasik, Jalgaon, Solapur and Amarawati in Maharashtra were also to have low-cost airports.