Govt studying 300 airstrips to develop brownfield airports: Aviation secy | News

Representative Picture (Photo: Bloomberg)

The Centre is studying 300 airstrips across the country as it is looking to develop them as brownfield airports to spur air connectivity, Aviation Secretary Vumlunmang Vualnam said on Wednesday.

Currently, India has a total of 453 airstrips and 157 of them have been operationalised as airports.

Moreover, in a major relief to aircraft lessors, he stated that the government is in “final stages” of ratifying the Cape Town Convention (CTC) into law.

“We are working on it. The new government will take it up,” he said in his speech at CAPA India Aviation Summit 2024.

Aircraft lessors have been urging India to ratify the CTC, an international treaty that provides time-bound solutions for lessors to repossess aircraft, thereby easing their inherent risks.

This demand intensified after they were unable to repossess their planes from Go First for several months following the airline’s bankruptcy in May last year.

“India is a large country and connectivity to different parts of the country is important. Government, on its part, has actively been looking at increasing connectivity to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities,” Vualnam stated.

“In fact, a few days back we went through the entire 453 airstrips we have in this country. Which of them need development? How do we develop them? Which of them have industrial areas within 100 kms? While 157 airstrips are already functional, we have started looking at all 453 airstrips in the country,” he said.

According to Vualnam, India has doubled its number of airports to 157 in the last 10 years.

The Centre is thinking of a 25-year time period to develop an entire airport ecosystem. And, it realises that smaller airports could feed a significant share of the traffic to bigger airports, just like how smaller airports are accommodating bigger airlines.

He said that the government is looking to start civil aircraft operations at more defence airfields across the country. 

To meet the growing demand in the country’s air travel market, Indian carriers have made four huge aircraft orders since last year.

In February 2023, the Tata-run Air India Group placed an order for 470 planes — 250 with Airbus of Europe and 220 with American planemaker Boeing.

In June 2023, IndiGo made the world’s largest aircraft order by signing a deal for 500 A320neo family planes from Airbus.

In January 2024, the new airline Akasa Air placed an order for 150 B737 Max aircraft with Boeing.

Last month, IndiGo had placed an order with Airbus for 30 A350-900 widebody aircraft at a deal size estimated to be around $4-5 billion.

IndiGo is reportedly also in discussions with ATR to place an order for 100 turboprop aircraft.

Domestic and international air traffic in India — for the first time — crossed the pre-pandemic peak of 2018-19 in 2023-24 due to sustained increase in demand. International air traffic in India saw faster growth than domestic air traffic in 2023-24.

International air traffic in the country stood at 69.7 million passengers in 2023-24, recording a 22.5 per cent year-on-year (YoY) growth.

In 2018-19, a total of 69.5 million air passengers travelled internationally.

Domestic air traffic stood at 153.4 million passengers in 2023-24, reflecting a 13.46 per cent growth. In 2018-19, a total of 137.6 million air passengers travelled domestically.

First Published: Jun 05 2024 | 4:14 PM IST

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