Low-cost airports area priority, says Ajit Singh

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Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh

The development of low-cost airports will be one of the priority areas, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said on Monday.

The recent increase in airport charges in Delhi and the proposed increase in Mumbai are being citied as the primary reason for airlines either withdrawing from these airports or hiking fares to meet increasing costs.

Addressing the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Civil Aviation, Singh said the Government had given in-principle approval for setting up 15 new greenfield airports under the joint venture or public-private partnership, including in Goa, Navi Mumbai and Kannur.

These new airports will be in addition to the five major ones already operationalised.

The Minister said the other priority areas include providing greater connectivity to smaller and remote parts of the country, reduction of value-added tax on aviation turbine fuel and bringing it under the Petroleum National Regulatory Board Act to control its prices, and developing India as an international aviation hub.

Singh added that GPS-aided GEO Augmented Navigation System, more popularly known as GAGAN, is likely to be rolled out by July next year.

GAGAN has been developed by Airports Authority of India with support from the Indian Space Research Organisation at an estimated cost of Rs 774 crore.

During the discussion, the members called for improving connectivity by increasing the number of flights and setting up airports in smaller towns. They also voiced concerns over rising air fares.

(This article was published on December 17, 2012)
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