Monday, May 27, 2024

Indian Airports: Ribbons Of Prosperity

 By Bikram Vohra

Simply buying aircraft is not enough. It is necessary to ensure that the infrastructure needed to take off and land these aircraft is commensurate with the purchase. India’s development of new airports under the Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme has a singular aim: to provide affordable flights to the common man and create a network that links smaller cities at levels two and three to the metros. It also creates a network within a network by linking smaller towns with each other. The most recent airport to be inaugurated was the Shivamogga Airport in Karnataka on 27 February 2023. This is a Greenfield airport, and the environmental safeguards are impressive.

The twin Indian plan regarding airports is to upgrade the present ones and then create a slew of others. Currently, 14 airports are under construction, significantly boosting the national network. It shows that India means business. With 85% of its population not having yet taken to the air, the potential for increasing passenger uplift is immense.

The UDAN scheme launched in 2016 entails fixing airfare at INR 2,500 for an hour’s journey by a fixed-wing aircraft or a 30 min travel for about 500 km by helicopter. Under this initiative, air service is provided in over 359 routes touching 59 airports, 5 heliports, and 2 aerodromes. There has already been an impact, with the number of functional airports rising from 74 to 141.

It is not just the question of airports facilitating air passengers in transit. It is also a major incentive, creating spikes in the real estate market and giving townships a significant reason for employment and long-term prosperity. The ripple effect of a city port cannot be undermined, and the underpinning of this initiative will positively impact areas around each airport. 

Here is a brief and handy guide to some airports almost ready to be pressed into service. 

Shivamogga Airport, Karnataka

Kuvempu Airport is located at Shivamogga in Karnataka. The lotus-shaped airport is now open to the public with a daily passenger capacity of around 7,200. It has a strong intermodal value with two railheads and multiple roads. 

Jewar Airport, Noida

Located in Greater Noida, this will finally be the biggest airport in India. This airport will have 6 runways and share the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport load, Delhi.

Purandar Airport, Pune

This airport will pick up the slack from Lohegaon Airport in Pune. Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje International Airport is just 40 km from Pune. Active operations should begin in February 2024.

 Orvkal Airport, Kurnool

This airport is yet to get its commercial license. It will boost the tourism and real estate sector of Kurnool, Srisailam, and Nandyal when it finally gets off the ground. 

Mopa Airport, Goa 

Mopa Airport in North Goa was inaugurated on 11 December 2022. The airport is named after the late Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. The first phase can handle 44 lakh passengers a year. In its final avatar, it will handle 10 million passengers. 

Sindhudurg Airport, Maharashtra

It is just 27 km away from the Mumbai-Goa Expressway. At last, an airport in the South Konkan region.

Kalyani Airport, Kolkata

Located 45 km from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport at Dum Dum in Kolkata, it will ease the load on the main terminal. It will start operating in 2030 with a capacity of 8 million annually. 

Holongi Airport, Arunachal Pradesh

This Greenfield airport will be located just 14 km away from Itanagar. This airport will increase access to the state. It was commissioned on 15 August 2022.

Dholera International Airport, Gujarat

This airport is being built in Gujarat and is expected to be operational by 2025. The airport is expected to have an initial capacity of 10 million passengers per year, potentially expanding to 50 million passengers per year.

Rajkot Airport, Gujarat

This single-runway airport will handle A320 flights and will be built in four phases. 

 Navi Mumbai International Airport, Maharashtra

This new international airport is under construction and will come up at Panvel in Navi Mumbai, also known as NAINA (Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area). It will handle 90 million passengers annually.

Rourkela Airport, Orissa

It is already active and a precursor to two more in Utkela and Jeypore.

 Rewa Airport, Madhya Pradesh

Rewa Airport is a part of the UDAN regional connectivity scheme connecting Rewa directly with Bhopal, Indore, New Delhi and Mumbai in the first phase.

Danteswari Airport, Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh

It will allow operations of ATR-72 type of aircraft and other 40-seater turboprops, making it the model for inner city connectivity.  

Bhogapuram Airport, Andhra Pradesh

Bhogapuram International Airport is an upcoming Greenfield project that will directly impact the region’s economic growth.

It is believed the development of new airports will lead to macroeconomic development, improve the financial conditions of local people, and attract industry.

Impact On Real Estate

Today, India has 486 airports, airstrips, flying schools, and armed forces bases available in the country. Of these, 123 airports with scheduled commercial flights, including some with dual civilian and military use. There are 35 international airports, so one can see the immense potential in the current infrastructure. 

Upgrades of active airports are occurring systematically. Chennai International Airport, Hyderabad International Airport, and Kolkata International Airport recently underwent terminal expansion projects.

Indian airports have upgraded their technology infrastructure to provide passengers with a seamless travel experience. This includes implementing biometric-enabled e-boarding systems, automated check-in kiosks, and self-baggage drop facilities. And there is more to come. Ground services and movement have improved, as have baggage reconciliation procedures. Food outlets and airport terminal entertainment options have increased. 

Out there in the field, Indian airports have also upgraded their runway and apron infrastructure to increase their capacity and improve safety. For example, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport runway in Mumbai was recently extended to accommodate larger aircraft. Indian airports are also focusing on sustainable development by implementing green initiatives. Kochi International Airport in Kerala has become the world’s first airport to be fully powered by solar energy.

Air Traffic Control (ATC) at all these airports is the one area where similar upgrades are necessary. There is a shortage of trained personnel, and controllers need more incentives to take up a demanding career. 

But for now, the nation’s aviation sector is lined up and ready to roll.

Bikram Vohra is the Consulting Editor of IADB

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