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With a view to make the regulations governing the civil aviation sector more meaningful and transparent, the Ministry of Civil Aviation recently released the draft of the new Civil Aviation Policy for consultations with stakeholders and public. The new Civil Aviation Policy is expected to come into effect from January next year.

As per the draft policy, the government will continue to rely on the public-private partnership model for developing more airports in the country.

Currently, there are a total of 132 airports in the country. Of these, 46 domestic airports and 15 international airports are run by Airports Authority of India. Four joint venture airports developed under the PPP model operate in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Out of the remaining airports, 31 are not operational and the rest include civil enclaves in defence airports or customs airports. There are also six airports run by state governments or the private sector.

During the last decade, four major airports in the country have been developed under the PPP model. These airports of international standards are making significant contribution towards growth of the civil aviation sector as well as regional economic growth.

“Government’s objective is to develop more airports in the PPP mode, with appropriate modifications to ensure competitiveness in costs,” the draft policy said.

The government proposes to carry out the development of airports in phases. In the first phase, development of the airports in Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur will be taken up.

The draft policy also focuses on development of the six metropolitan airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad as major international hubs. These airports will be the main access points for international travel to and from India in the future.

“We would in future follow a ‘hub-and-spoke’ model, which would also facilitate the development of regional networks and air connectivity as a whole. The existing bilateral agreements with foreign airlines will be reviewed on an equal opportunity basis. Future bilateral agreements will be designed in such a way as to facilitate the hub-and-spoke model,” the draft policy said.

The draft policy calls for designing the airports as integrated multi-modal hubs which will include rail, metro, bus and truck connectivity as well as accommodation and other services with the objective of providing best possible service levels and potential for growth. It stresses on the need to create access to manufacturing, business, tourism, and pilgrimage centers alongside development of airports through integration and pooling of resources between various departments of the centre and states as well as other stakeholders. In order to ensure the best possible conveniences to the passengers, the draft Policy intends providing electronic check-in facilities and automated baggage handling services at airports in phases. In the first phase, the existing facilities will be upgraded at 18 major airports that account for 86 per cent of the traffic. Upgradation of facilities at the remaining airports will be covered subsequently.

In addition to laying down a broad roadmap for development of airports in the country, the draft policy seeks to rationalise the cost of aviation turbine fuel, significantly develop the cargo sector, carry out institutional reforms in the sector, enhance regional connectivity, develop the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facilities, modernise air navigation services, realise the potential of the helicopter aviation segment, upgrade DGCA rules and regulations to international standards and adopt e-governance in the Ministry of Civil Aviation and its offices.

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