Upgrade work on Chennai, Kolkata airports to start by March 2008

Work on upgrading the Chennai and Kolkata airports would begin not later than March next year, according to minister for civil aviation, Praful Patel. According to Patel, the projects had already been approved by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which will also execute the work.

Patel also announced that international airlines would be permitted to land at the Calicut airport from next year. In this regard he mentioned that there had been a 100 per cent increase in the number of international and domestic airlines operating to and from Kerala, since 2004.

Talking about the development of airport infrastructure, Patel said that a policy on Greenfield airports would be in place by early next year. He said that the ministry of civil aviation was considering a proposal to allow the building of more than one airport in a particular region. Currently, government policy does not allow an international airport to come up within 150 km of an existing one.

According to Patel, the ministry was reconsidering this rule as it was felt that it hampered growth of the aviation industry.

On the issue of allowing new airlines to start operations, Patel said that the ministry had no problems in permitting new entrants but would scrutinise the business plans and financial health of promoters before according approvals.