The country's airport sector is expected to see investments worth Rs 1.65 lakh crore, including from private players, in the coming years, and the government also aims to have 200 airports, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Thursday.
The civil aviation sector, which was significantly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, is on the recovery path and domestic passenger traffic is slowly touching the pre-pandemic levels. On April 17, the domestic air passenger traffic crossed the 4 lakh mark for the first time in two years.
About capital expenditure plans, Scindia said, "we have a plan of close to Rs 98,000 crore over the next four years to be deployed in the area of airports alone".
Out of the total amount, Rs 25,000 crore would be from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Rs 22,000 crore would be for the expansion of airports and the building of new terminals.
"The private sector is looking at close to about Rs 67,000 crore in terms of new investments... (in airports)," Scindia said while speaking at the Times Network's India Economic Conclave.
Emphasizing that rapid expansion is going to take place, the minister said the plan is to have close to 200 airports in the country.
"We had 74 airports prior to 2014 in 70 years of India's independence and in the last 8 years, we have built 67 airports... it is my intention, by the way, to take it close to 200 airports in India, and therefore you want to see a rapid expansion of airport infrastructure networks," he noted.
Further, Scindia mentioned a new policy for smaller aircraft to encourage regional transport aircraft and helicopters and seaplanes.
"So, I want to connect the last mile, there's enough of connectivity coming in from international metros to metros domestically but I want to connect tier 2 to 3 cities to metros and to each other. So, I am looking at a very, very aggressive plan over the next three to four years," he said.
Amid the high growth potential in the country's aviation space, a new airline Akasa is expected to take to the skies in the coming months and the now-shuttered Jet Airways is also anticipated to restart operations.
Akasa and Jet Airways are expected to start operations before the end of this financial year, the minister said.
In March, around 1.06 crore domestic passengers traveled by air, as per official data.