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New airports to be developed in smaller cities, towns: Finance Minister

New Delhi: New airports will be developed in smaller cities and towns to encourage air travel in the country, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced on Thursday.

The Airport Authority of India (AAI) will build the airports through public private partnership (PPP) process, the minister told the Lok Sabha while presenting the national budget. Jaitely said that while air travel has increased, it is still a dream of many Indian to fly.

Non-metro airports in the country now account for only about 30 percent of the total air traffic but this is expected to rise to 45 percent in the next few years.

India plans to build 200 low-cost airports in the next 20 years to connect tier-II and tier-III cities, the minister said. The government has finished development work at 33 non-metro airports for increasing regional connectivity. The government also plans to construct 15 additional airports under the greenfield airport policy by identifying the most suitable low cost viable model.

India's Economic Survey for 2013-14 on Wednesday showed a healthy increase of 5.2 percent in domestic passenger traffic at Indian airports during April-March 2013-14.

According to the Survey, the domestic passenger count during the period under review stood at 122.43 million passengers, up from 116.37 million in the corresponding period of 2012-13.

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