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Jamshedpur to get new airport: Jayant Sinha

Ranchi, Feb 17: Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha today said that apart from developing the old airport at Jamshedpur, an all-new airport would also be set up in the steel city.

Addressing reporters during the Momentum Jharkhand Global Investors’ Summit, he said under the regional connectivity scheme bids have been received for Jamshedpur which would be now soon connected to Kolkata. He said that the number of flights operating from Ranchi during the summer season would be increased from 14 to 18 with Air Asia operating flights from Ranchi to New Delhi and Kolkata.

Sinha said that his department was also working at developing the airports at all the other major cities of the state including Dhanbad, Dumka, Giridih, Hazaribagh and Palamu to increase air travel in the state. He said that the construction of the airports would commence as soon as the land is made available.

Replying to a query he said that most of the MoUs which have been inked would be implemented as the track record of the NDA government whether at the centre and the state to show that work has been done.

Sinha said the regional air connectivity scheme, UDAN, will see the number of operational airports in the country shoot up by over 50, while the cost of travelling will come down to as low as Rs 2,500 up to an hour of journey (via air).

According to the Minister, there are 75 operational small airports in the country and this number will increase to “over 125” with the successful implementation of UDAN (acronym for Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) – the new scheme through which the government hopes to make flying to Tier-II and III cities viable. “Our goal is to provide connectivity to all of India’s major cities,” the Minister maintained.

With traffic growing by over 20 per cent, there will obviously be “capacity constraints” but the Centre is taking all possible actions to ensure decongestion and utilisation of existing capacities.

According to Sinha, the cost of flying is coming down because of technology. And if oil prices remain at “reasonable levels’, it would be one of the cheapest modes of transport after Railways.

“Viability gap funding will enable us to offer seats at Rs 2,500 up to an hour of flight. So it will be very affordable,” he said.

Private airliners, Sinha maintained, will obviously take a call on the routes depending on commercial viability. And the introduction of viability gap funding will only boost connectivity, making many more routes viable.

Disruption in mass transport is also on the cards with companies such as Hyperloop proposing new-age rapid transit options.

Asked whether such proposals might lead to disruptions in regional air connectivity schemes, Sinha said these technologies are still “futuristic” and yet to see “mass adoption”.

“These are futuristic technologies that are decades away from being adopted in the mass market. We welcome innovations and new futuristic technologies. But regional connectivity will be available very soon,” he added.

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