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Saturday, Sep 25, 2004

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28 non-metro airports to be upgraded

Our Bureau

Kolkata , Sept. 24

TWENTY-eight non-metro airports across the country will be upgraded to world standards at a cost of around Rs 3,000 crore within the next three years, according to Mr Praful Patel, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation.

Speaking to newspersons after delivering his address at the inaugural session of the 53rd annual congress of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) here on Friday, Mr Patel said the Ministry was working on detailed plans in this regard. These airports would have aerobridges and modern facilities. In addition, upgradation of the airports in the metros would also be taken up.

Earlier, in his address, Mr Patel said modern airport infrastructure could not only attract foreign tourists but also provide a boost to domestic tourism as well. The airports in Kolkata and Mumbai have the potential to transform into regional hubs such as Singapore and Dubai.

The Minister said a "major directional change" was necessary to beef up the airport infrastructure in the country. The idea was to change the way people travel in India.

He said flight operations across the country would not be disrupted on account of the threat of mass leave by members of the Airports Authority of India Joint Forum (AAIJF) on Monday.

Earlier, in his address, the President of TAAI, Mr Balbir Mayal, presented a case for a "comprehensive policy on travel, tourism and civil aviation." This, he said, was imperative in view of the fact that six million foreign tourists were expected to come to India in 2006.

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