Need strategies to make non-functional airports perform: Aviation minister

Hyderabad : Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati said Tuesday there is a need for strategies to make the country’s non-functional airports functional.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event here, he said while the government wants to build new airports to reach places which are not connected, there is also a need for strategies to make non-functional airports perform.

Support TwoCircles

“Airport is just an infrastructure. How we use it is the question. We have a lot of airports which are not all functional. They become non-performing assets. We need strategies to make them perform. I think there will be actionable points emerging in government of India and also state governments,” he said.

He said the country has 125 airports where aircrafts can land but only 70 to 73 are active on a daily basis.

He said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has sought no-frills airport at Kuppam in Chittoor district. He said the state government might be thinking in terms of using it for cargo.

A no-frills airport is also proposed at Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh. He, however, said that there is no activity there.

The minister said three international airports were proposed in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act but barring Vijayawada, others (Visakhapatnam and Tirupati) are already international airports.

He said the ministry was trying to develop an aviation policy. He said the sector is confined to passengers and it was losing sight of cargo and other factors. “We would like whole sector to grow to its potential and contribute to the Indian economy,” he added.

The ministry has been requesting state governments to cut taxes on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) as it is pushing the cost of aviation beyond the point. He said some states like Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh have responded while Madhya Pradesh also plans to reduce the tax.

On tax, the minister said a few states are responding because these want aviation activity but those with high aviation activity are dragging their feet on it.

Most of the airlines are asking the central government to take ATF as a declared good. “If we are to make it a declared good, we will be removing power of taxation from state governments. We are a federal country, so we need state governments on board.”

On Air India, he said the government had given it financial reconstruction plan and it was for it to perform.

“Air India books are not in its favour. Everybody knows that. Certain commercial decisions they have taken don’t make economic sense. We would like to see that it comes out and fires,” the minister added.