Ministry seeks power to sanction private air strips

April 9th, 2008 - 8:57 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) The civil aviation ministry has urged the government to empower it to sanction licensing for private air strips, instead of going to the Cabinet for approval, a government official said Wednesday. Speaking at the Indo-US Aviation Cooperation here Wednesday, K.N. Srivastava, joint secretary at the civil aviation ministry, said there is a growing demand for licenses to acquire private jets.

“We could need a few hundred more air strips for general aviation (business and corporate jets and charters) in 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 delegates participating at the Indo-US Aviation here.

Aviation industry sources said companies operating in the mining belt - Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand - also have sought permission to acquire and import about 80 helicopters.

According to Manav Singh, managing director of ClubOne Air, a company that allows individuals and companies to jointly own aircrafts, the major demand is coming from companies with operations in various parts of the country.

“Companies operating in sectors like oil and gas, retail, manufacturing, farming, mining and construction are some of the major demand drivers,” he said.

Last month, union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said private chartered aircrafts would increase manifold and the number of present air strips in India would not be able to handle the rush.

Recently, the government announced closure of old airports at Hyderabad and Bangalore for general aviation once the new ones began commercial operations.

The official also said that 10 Indian airports are undergoing major expansion. “It will be complete by 2010. We will then take up more airports for expansion,” the official said.

The government has also identified 35 non-metro airports for development on public-private-partnership (PPP) basis.

While the Airports Authority of India will carry out the development inside the airport, private entrepreneurship is being sought for development involving non-aeronautical activities to be carried out outside the airport premises.

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