Will Budget boost air connect to smaller cities?

Visakhapatnam: The Union government’s proposal to start 100 new airports under its UDAN regional connectivity scheme could prove to be a boon for small airports like Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry and Vijayawada.
Aviation experts feel the main focus now will be on developing the smaller airports, which will lead to increase in number of flights from non-metro cities across the country. “A hundred new airports in smaller cities across the country mean at least 500 to 600 new flights. A better part of these flights would actually connect only the non-metro cities,” said an aviation expert in the city, who works with a private airline.
As of now, AP has four operational airports — Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and Rajahmundry — all of which suffer from withdrawal of flights by different airlines. In the last two years, Visakhapatnam airport saw the withdrawal as many as 10-12 flights, including three international ones.
“There would be two advantages if the government seriously focuses on the smaller airports. First, the number of flights will go up. Second, competition would increase quality of on-board services even in non-metro sectors and would also make airfare competitive,” opined Joydeep Mukherjee, an international travel expert who has drafted the tourism policy for a few countries.
However, he warned that the government should be careful about selecting the cities and towns for the new airports, otherwise it might not prove to be lucrative for flight operators. “Selections should be made as per demand and infrastructure, and the airports should spread across all states and union territories,” added Mukherjee.

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