Government announces draft airport policy

New Delhi: The Government of India has announced a draft policy laying down guidelines for state governments, private investors, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the purpose of building airports and related infrastructure in the country. It is estimated that this sector will require estimated investments of Rs40,000 crore through the 11th Plan period.

The draft policy proposes to dispense with the mandatory approval of the Centre in all cases of Greenfield airports, barring those where the project proposal was not in conformity with the policy. It also emphasises public-private partnership (PPP) in the construction of airport infrastructure.

The draft guidelines were finalised by an inter-ministerial group headed by civil aviation secretary, Ashok Chawla. The guidelines now require clearance from the Committee on Infrastructure, headed by prime minister Manmohan Singh, according to an official spokesperson.

Under the policy, certain functions like air traffic services, security, and customs and immigration will be performed only by central agencies. Since a company seeking a licence to build an airport will have to obtain clearances from these agencies, draft guidelines for these agencies will also be notified in due course.

On the issue of Greenfield airports, the draft policy suggests that this should be “preferably constructed” through the PPP route and that such airports should be financed substantially through them.

The need for going through the PPP route has been felt as a massive estimated sum of Rs40,000 crore would be required during the 11th Plan period, with the government not in a position to raise such an amount.

State governments can either set up greenfield airports by themselves or through any designated entity or establish a joint venture company for the purpose, the draft policy suggests. They will also have to consider issues like grant of land, either on a concessional basis or otherwise, real estate development rights, airport connectivity and fiscal concessions to such airport firms.

The AAI could also set up Greenfield airports by itself, as might be approved by the government on a case-to-case basis, the spokesperson said.