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Belagavi, Hubballi among 5 busiest UDAN airports

Last Updated : 18 January 2020, 19:27 IST

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Belagavi and Hubballi airports have emerged as two of the five busiest airports countrywide, commenced under the Regional Connectivity Scheme, UDAN. Prayagraj, Kishangarh and Jharsuguda are the other busy airports under UDAN that has helped 35 lakh passengers fly till date.

Ten airports, including Belagavi and Kalaburagi, were operationalised under the scheme in 2019 till December 7. Of these, four airports were underserved and six unserved, a top Civil Aviation Ministry official said on the sidelines of a meet linked to Wings India 2020.

In all, 134 routes were operationalised and 335 routes awarded under the scheme, covering 33 airports. A total of Rs 304.49 crore was spent for upgrading existing and new airports from April to November, 2019. Karnataka will figure prominently in UDAN’s plans for the immediate future.

The state government has proposed to complete airport projects in Vijayapura, Shivamogga, Karwar and Chikkamagaluru over the next two years, as Kapil Mohan, Principal Secretary of the State Infrastructure Development Department informed.

The projects will be kickstarted through public-private partnership with active involvement of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and other stakeholders.

The Kalaburagi airport was commissioned recently. Bidar will be next, as Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation reiterated.

Projecting a 100% rise in operationalised airports and heliports in the next five years, Kharola, however drew attention to the big challenges the sector faced in airport capacity upgrades and lack of heliports.

Besides, airlines face grave financial viability issues. “High price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF), where the big chunk goes to tax is an issue. We have asked the states to reduce the tax on ATF,” said Kharola.

India has done well in international short-hauls. “But we are virtually stagnant in middle-haul and long-haul services from India. Foreign carriers are taking away this market. Economic benefits are not percolating down.”

On gaps in skilled manpower, Kharola said India’s annual requirement is 700-800 pilots. “But we are getting only 350. This gap needs to be filled urgently. It is a low-hanging fruit.” He also spoke about modernising the regulatory mechanisms for both aviation safety and security.

Enlistment of all drones currently in use will be converted to licences, Kharola informed, urging all such users to furnish details. In light of security concerns, there is a need to strike a delicate balance. “But the regulatory framework will be extremely congenial,” he assured.

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Published 18 January 2020, 18:34 IST

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