It’s been a couple of years since the construction of the terminal building at Jaisalmer was completed, at a cost of Rs 111 crore. But the terminal in Rajasthan’s tranquil desert city does not have any passengers in its premises, as of now.
The airport has a capacity enough to host more than three lakh passengers in a year, and the parking is enough for three narrow body 180-metre jets. But this is not an isolated case, seven other airports constructed at a cost of Rs 326 crore suffer the same fate.
Lack of demand for flights
While Narendra Modi has announced construction of airports in the country, as a part of his plans to fuel growth, this lack of travellers remains a challenge. As per the CEO of a private sector airline, the government seems to think that building airports will automatically increase travellers, which is not the case.
SpiceJet had to stop flights to Mysore, Karnataka, because the demand was not enough to continue operations. The policy of building 200 no frills airports was conceived originally by the previous government to meet rising air travel and increase accessibility to far flung areas.
There has been no information from the Civil Aviation Ministry to verify if the Modi government will continue with the plan. But the recent declaration to pledge Rs 2700 crore, for building four new airports in Bihar, says a lot.
A lot of questions
The question now isn’t whether India has enough airports, the question is, “Does India have enough travellers?” Apart from the crores that are needed for the construction of airports, even more goes into maintaining them.
While there are more aspects of the infrastructure which need a lot of improvement, is it justified to spend on airports that end up deserted? India is developing at a quick pace and that is a good thing, but what is the point of such expenditure which serves no purpose?