New Delhi: Officials of the civil aviation ministry feel they need to be empowered sufficiently by the government to license air strips around the country on their own, instead of having to seek Cabinet approval for each one. According to KN Srivastava, joint secretary, civil aviation ministry, a growing need, and demand, for private jets was also leading to an increased demand for serviceable air strips around the country.
Srivastava was speaking at the Indo-US Aviation Cooperation meet here on Wednesday,
''We could need a few hundred more air strips for general aviation (business and corporate jets and charters) in the near future. These air strips would be exclusively for chartered operations. If we wait for the cabinet approval for every air strip coming-up, it would only delay the work,'' Srivastava told participating delegates.
As far as general aviation was concerned, demand was rising particularly from companies operating in the mining belt, that is from the States of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. Apparently, companies have sought permission to acquire about 80 helicopters.
Apart from mining, major demand was arising from companies operating in sectors like oil and gas, retail, manufacturing, farming and construction with operations in various parts of the country. Such companies, according to industry officials, were the major demand drivers.
Civil aviation minister, Praful Patel, has gone on record to say that private or chartered aircraft would increase manifold and hat the number of air strips currently in operation would not be sufficient to handle the rush.
According to Srivastava, ten airports in the country were currently being expanded, work on which would be over by 2010. Additional airports would then be taken up for expansion.
In this regard he said, the government had already identified 35 non-metro airports for development on public-private-partnership (PPP) basis.
Under this scheme, while the Airports Authority of India would carry out development inside the airport, private sector enterprise would develop non-aeronautical activities around the airport premises.