The Union Minister for Civil Aviation P Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Saturday said that non-functioning airports form around Rs 3,000 crore of the government’s non-performing assets. Citing the airports at Bathinda and Ludhiana, he said that airlines are not keen on operating from such airports due to the economic constraints.
Raju, who was at the Golden Temple here, said that the government was trying its best to provide the necessary stimulus for airlines to begin their operations from such airports as well.
“We have witnessed 20% increase in the air traffic in India last year and there is huge potential in aviation in India. But again there are as many as 31 such airports across India which have not been witnessing any activity. Each airport is constructed at the cost of Rs 100 cr and sometime more than that. It means we have Rs 3000 crore non performing assets. Nobody wants these non-performing assets,” he said.
He said, “I know about the Bathinda and Ludhiana airports. Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal has raised issue of Bathinda airport many times. She is keen to make it functional but airlines are not. But our efforts are on to make these airports functional.”
On alleged failure of government to start direct international flights from Chandigarh airports, Raju said,”More direct international flights can only be introduced when there is enough traffic at the airport. Many hopping flights have been already working between Amritsar and Chandigarh airports. “
About naming Chandigarh airport after name of Bhagat Singh, he said, “There is a procedure to name any airport and that procedure is underway,” He also said there was potential of flights between Amritsar and Nanded in view of religious tourism and his ministry would try to convince airlines to start the flights and increase the traffic.
He said, “I have noticed that the trains which going to Nanded from Amritsar, are full of Sikh pilgrims and demand of starting the flight was raised by MPs from Punjab. We will work on it to convince airlines.”