Setting a December deadline, the government is embarking on reviving 50 unserved and underserved airports and airstrips following a fast pace growth of the country's aviation market, but with a warning that it will be a demand-driven process.
With domestic air traffic on the rise and India registering a faster growth rate than the United States and China when it comes to number of fliers, according to the Economic Survey tabled in Parliament on Monday, the government has earmarked Rs 4,500 crore for revival of 50 unserved and underserved airports and airstrips.
However, it warned, "revival of airstrips/airports will be 'demand-driven', depending upon firm commitment from airline operators as well as from the state governments."
To add to growing number of passengers from Tier-II and Tier-III cities with the operationalisation of the regional connectivity scheme, the government has already granted "site clearance" for five greenfield airports, including one in Kothagudem in Telangana.
It has also granted in-principle approval for setting up 18 greenfield airports in the country with four of them - Bijapur, Kalaburgi, Hasan and Shimoga - in Karnataka.
Some among the others include Mopa in Goa, Durgapur in West Bengal, Dabra in Madhya Pradesh and Pakyong in Sikkim.
The Economic Survey paints a rosy picture of the growth rate in domestic aviation and said the country's market is far ahead of the United States and China when it comes to the growth in the number of domestic fliers.
"India is the 3rd largest and the fastest growing domestic aviation market in the world in terms of number of domestic tickets sold. In 2016-17, annual growth in domestic passenger departures was 23.5% as compared to 3.3% in the US and 10.7% in China," it said.
Domestic passenger traffic registered a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.89% during 2007-08 to 2016-17.
In 2017-18 (April - September), domestic airlines carried 57.5 million passengers, with a growth rate of 16% over the corresponding previous year period.
Scheduled Indian and foreign carriers carried 29.2 million passengers to and from India, and showed a growth rate of 9% in 2017-18 (April -September) over the corresponding period in the previous fiscal.