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India Plans 100 New Airports in Next 10 to 15 Years

September 17, 2018

Pakyong, the first airport connecting the eastern India state of Sikkim to the rest of the country, opens for business near the state’s capital of Gangtok on October 8.

Departures drop-off area at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport Mumbai, also known as Mumbai CSIA. It is so full with airport traffic that a second airport is already under way to serve the Mumbai area -- by 2021. Photo: Chris Hoare, CC

When it opens, that airport will be the 100th operational commercial airport in the country. It will have regularly scheduled flights and full connections with the rest of India’s aviation hubs.

That is just the beginning for India. As Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said in comments on September 4, the country plans to build as many as 100 new airports across the country in the next 15 years. It will cost India an estimated $60 billion to construct them, with funding projected to happen using a public/private partnership model. The airports help serve the country's growth and help drive it, by encouraging foreign direct investments where infrastructure such as airport service is good.

The building will come none too soon for India’s rapidly-growing economy. In 2017, domestic passenger traffic there logged its 42nd month in a row of double-digit growth. That includes 18% growth just for January 2018 alone.

Mumbai, a major economic center for the country, has already overflowed capacity for many of its flights and runways at the city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Work is already underway to build a second airport for the city, with a planned opening date of September 2021.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), demand for air travel within India was higher than other major world markets like Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Russia and even the United States. Meeting that demand is a very different problem, requiring airports, feeder roadways, advanced telecommunications and other infrastructure.

Besides the overall total increase in building airports, another important benefit of the new airports planned for the country is that around 70 of those planned will be put in areas where no such infrastructure exists right now. The remaining approximately 30 of the new airports will become secondary hubs designed to absorb some of the rapid increase in air travel planned for the region.

Based on IATA’s data, by 2025 – which should be when many of these new airports are already in place -- India is expected to become the third largest aviation market in the world. China will remain as number one, which is consistent with projections Boeing made only a few weeks ago in forecast the largest single country needs for new pilots, technicians, and crew would go to China through 2037 at least. The U.S. will be number two.

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