India needs 400 airports: aviation minister

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India's aerospace industry is likely to require 400 airports and 3,000 passenger aircraft over the next 10 years as the country continues to register strong growth figures, says the country's civil aviation minister Praful Patel.

While the country's air transport market affected by the high fuel prices of 2008 and economic downturn of 2009, it has registered a "compounded annual growth rate of...18%" for the past few years and this will continue, says Patel, who adds that if the recovery that began in the fourth quarter of 2009 holds, the industry is likely to continue registering strong growth figures from 2011.

"We have been able to weather the thunderstorm that struck the world with composure, and I am looking at 2010 with cautious optimism and am hopeful that the worst will be over this year," he adds.

The Airports Authority of India says that around $8.5 billion was earmarked for the development airports during the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12). This includes privatising and upgrading Mumbai and New Delhi airports.

The authority also plans to invest an additional $3.07 billion over the next five years to upgrade airports in Chennai, Kolkata and Trivandrum. It will also modernise dozens of other non-metro airports through a public-private model.