Hyderabad: India plans to build 200 low-cost airports in the next 20 years to connect tier-II and tier-III cities, said a civil aviation ministry official.
This will be one of the focus areas of India Aviation 2014, the country's largest civil aviation exhibition and conference beginning here Wednesday.
The event with the theme "Enhancing air connectivity" will have special session on 'looking beyond metros'.
G. Ashok Kumar, joint secretary, civil aviation, told reporters here Monday that low-cost, small and no-frill airports would be built in tier-II and tier-III cities, which are expected to spur the development of the aviation sector in the second phase.
"As the operating and service costs at the major airports are phenomenally high, there are plans to build small no-frill airports. They will have the basic infrastructure and will be like upgraded high-class railway stations," he said.
The non-metro airports in India presently accounts for only about 30 percent of the total air traffic, but is expected to rise to 45 percent in the next few years.
The government also plans to construct 15 additional airports in the country under the Greenfield Airport Policy, by identifying the most suitable low cost viable model.
Airports Authority of India plans to invest Rs.1,500 crore in the development of non metro airports during the 12th Plan.
India is planning to invest over $120 billion in the development of airport infrastructure; improvement in connecting infrastructure; development of world class air navigation services infrastructure and other related activities to improve the air connectivity.
India, one of the fastest growing aviation market in the world, currently ranks ninth but is expected to become the third largest after US and China by 2020.
Indian airport system is poised to handle 336 million domestic and 85 million international passengers by 2020, from the current level of 121 million domestic and 41 million international passengers.
According to International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Airline Industry Forecast 2012-2016, India's domestic air travel market would be among the top five globally, experiencing the second highest growth rate at CAGR of 13.1 percent.
"About 400 aircraft are currently operational in the country and by 2020 the number is expected to reach 1000 aircrafts," said Ashok Kumar.
According to him, there is a huge opportunity for MRO sector (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul sector).
"Civil aviation is a highly regulated sector. This is a good opportunity and we are focusing for India to emerge as a MRO hub," he added.