New Delhi: Buoyed by the upswing in air traffic, the government is likely to give its nod to a wide- ranging policy to create international and regional aviation hubs in the country in the coming days.
The policy, which is likely to be considered by the Union Cabinet tomorrow, not only focuses on developing global airline hubs in India but also on establishing domestic regional hubs to cater to the emerging air traffic from non- metro destinations in remote areas, including the Northeast, official sources said.
India should take advantage of its geographical and locational suitability for foreign carriers connecting Europe to Southeast Asia or vice versa, they said, adding that creating ultra-modern airports to cater to the rising global traffic would have to be a top priority.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has already initiated steps like revisiting the policy and enhancing bilateral air service agreements with different countries.
Simultaneously, the government has been according high priority to provide air connectivity to remote, difficult and interior areas of the country.
Such connectivity would have to be customer-friendly and, therefore, affordable for passengers and lower cost of operation for the airlines, the sources said, adding that the Airports Authority of India has also been looking at developing low cost airports in smaller cities and towns.
The prime instruments to facilitate air connectivity to these areas are the Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG) and the aircraft acquisition policy.
The RDG makes it mandatory for all domestic carriers to operate a certain percentage of their total flights to remote places which were financially not viable. Besides Northeast, the areas identified were Jammu and Kashmir and Andaman and Nicobar islands.
For over a year, the Civil Aviation Ministry has been reworking capacity distribution norms for airlines to ensure better connectivity not only to these regions but also to smaller cities which could be connected by smaller planes.
However, some of the carriers, like IndiGo, do not possess smaller aircraft and therefore there operations are not geared for small airports.
The sources said the new policy would require airlines to increase flights to such destinations and, as a result, give a major boost to develop infrastructure like plush new airports.