The Government plans to build no-frill airports for smaller cities. A draft report has already been submitted to the Civil Aviation Ministry, and this is under ‘serious consideration,’ said an official.

Low cost and no-frill airports could be the answer to fly to smaller cities. That’s the long-term plan the Civil Aviation ministry has chalked out, said S. Machendranathan, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Regional and remote area connectivity is important for the growth of the civil aviation industry. This can be done by smaller aircraft reaching out to small towns in no-frill small airports that will offer facilities for take-off and landing of aircraft.

Construction of no-frill airports across the country is one of the four major growth plans of the future. The involvement of the private sector will also be considered in this, he said at an interactive session on Aviation Cargo Industry — A Vital Link in Logistics. The event was organised by the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and industry and Chennai Custom House Agents Association in association with Air Cargo Agents Association of India.

Upgrading of skills , strengthening regulatory authorities and modernisation of existing airports are other major initiatives that the government plans, he said.

With the pace of the growth in civil aviation, there is going to be a huge demand for pilots and engineers. The Government is planning to set up a National Aviation University. A consultant is already working on this project, he said.

On strengthening regulatory authority, Machandranathan said that setting up a body superior to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is being considered.

According to Yeshwant Bhave, Chairman, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India, the market is the best regulator. “Mimic the market to set the pricing,” he said.

Bharat Thakkar, President, Air Cargo Agents Association of India, said that all efforts should be done to bring down the transaction cost, which is one of the highest in the world. “The Government has done enough. We need to work together,” he said.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 9, 2013)
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