The recent disclosure by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) of spending over ₹430 crore during the last 10 years on little-known airports with zero traffic has enraged private air carriers, who contend that political considerations have overridden issues confronting bigger airports such as infrastructural bottlenecks and better runways, reports The New Indian Express.
Gondia airport in Maharashtra, for example, got ₹207.58 crore for upgradation during the last 10 years, but has no operations. Similarly, ₹56.29 crore was pumped into Jalgaon airport in the state, thanks to former civil aviation minister Praful Patel, who represented Gondia in the Lok Sabha during the UPA regime.
The 15 smaller airports in question have had no commercial services during the last one decade. Traffic in the bigger airports in major metros, on the other hand, increased exponentially in as many years. IGI Airport in Delhi saw a 16 per cent jump, handling over 35 lakh passengers as of December last year. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai handled 31 lakh passengers while Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore saw 14 lakh passengers till December last year.
“We are planning to make representations to the Ministry of Civil Aviation soon, drawing attention to the immediate attention that bigger airports are crying for,” said a representative of a major airline.