The announcement by Arun Jaitley that the government is drawing up an action plan for revival of unserved and underserved airports may benefit the Baramati airport, which has been defunct for over a decade. Aviation experts, however, say a viable aviation potential needs to be created for the airport to make it functional and sustain it. In his speech, Jaitley spoke of plans to develop about 160 airports and airstrips in the country in partnership with state governments, each at a cost of Rs 50-100 crore.
In 2009, Reliance Airport Developers, an Anil Ambani group company, had won a bid to run five airports in the state, including Baramati. However, even after six years, the RAD failed to expand or develop the airport. State finance minister Sudhi Munguntiwar had earlier said they would soon get possession of the airport.
According to SK Jain, former president of Maharatta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), although the airport stands a revival chance after the new announcement, it will have to create a reliable flier base for the airlines to actually operate. “It only makes sense to revive an airport by investing funds if it has a commercial potential. In absence of reliable flier base, the project cannot last. Baramati’s location is such that road transport to Pune or Mumbai takes almost the same time as a flight would take considering the formalities and other factors,” he said.