INDIA. Mumbai: The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to encourage the development of smaller airports to ensure regional connectivity was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The bill was earlier passed by Lok Sabha on July 29.
The bill allows tariff determination of a ‘group of airports’ by way of amending the definition of ‘major airport.’ It amends the provisions of the law about tariffs for single airports. The government intends to develop not only the high traffic volume and profitable airports, but also the low traffic volume of non-profitable airports.
The revenue earned by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) from these airports will be utilized for the development of airports in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. It would help encourage the development of smaller airports. This approach would help in the development of more airports through the Public-Private Participation route thus, expanding the air connectivity to relatively remote and far-flung areas.
After the bill was passed in Parliament the Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M. Scindia thanked the MPs for their valuable feedback and support to the bill and he said, “This will prove to be a catalyst in the development of small airports and help enhance air connectivity in far-flung areas. “The AERA (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has been passed by both the houses of the Parliament. I thank the MPs for their valuable feedback and support of the bill. This will prove to be a catalyst in the development of small airports and help enhance air connectivity in far-flung areas” Scindia said in a tweet.
“We have identified five zones for this clubbing, which include north, south, east, west, and northeast zone. Based on this clubbing… AAI will be giving a priority to airports in smaller cities and newer airports will also be inaugurated”, Scindia had informed the Lok Sabha on July 29.
He also listed various areas that have benefited from the central government’s Ude Desh Ka aam Nagrik (UDAN), or the regional connectivity scheme. Over the last one-and-a-half years, several smaller cities such as Darbhanga in Bihar, Belgaum, and Hubli in Karnataka, Jharsuguda in Odisha, and Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh, which were earlier “missing” from the map of civil aviation, have witnessed 110 flight movements from various parts of the country, he said.
The Bill intends to aid the government’s plan for privatization of smaller airports as part of its asset monetization program announced during the budget for 2021-2022. The Bill also promises to help faster development of smaller airports and expedite the air connectivity to relatively remote areas. The bill will allow AERA to regulate tariff and other charges for aeronautical services for not just major airports with annual passenger traffic of more than 3.5 million, but also a group of airports together.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has proposed 392 new air routes under UDAN 4.1, for bidding on the commencement of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ (75 th Independence Day). As of now, 325 routes and 56 airports including 5 heliports and 2 water aerodromes have been operationalized under the scheme.
The UDAN 4.1 is focused on connecting smaller airports, along with a special helicopter and seaplane routes. The scheme gives special focus on the northeast region, hilly states, and islands. The approved routes have been identified under the Sagar Mala Project of the Union government.