ROUTES: India targets growth to 250 airports by 2030

Abu Dhabi
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India is aiming to have 250 operational airports by 2030 as part of its bid to ensure that its lagging air transport infrastructure keeps up with rapidly growing passenger traffic.

The country has 125 airports that come under the purview of state-owned operator, Airports Authority of India (AAI). Work is ongoing to upgrade around 60 of those, including key hubs in Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. Many are located in Tier II and Tier III cities to improve connectivity within the country.

Meanwhile, the AAI will identify another 125 airports and airfields within India that can be developed for commercial operations, says GK Chaukiyal, the board member responsible for operations at the authority. It will then seek private sector partners that can help with the redevelopment, he adds.

This comes amid growing Indian passenger numbers, which have increased at an annual rate of 15% over the 10 years to 2011 and reached 162 million last year. This is projected to grow in tandem with the Indian GDP, which is forecast to quadruple from 2012 to 2031. Airport infrastructure has to keep up with this growth, says Chaukiyal.

"We understand that there is an urgent need to increase the number of airports in the country, and we are looking to develop many of them on a public-private partnership model," he adds.

The AAI and the Indian government estimate that during the current five-year plan, which runs from 2012 to 2017, Indian airports would require an investment of around $15 billion. Of this, around $10 billion is expected to come from the private sector, says the authority.