The news reports of sprawling cities with modern buildings and breath taking architecture being developed on vast swathes of land in the remotest locations took everyone by surprise. Their shock and disbelief turned out to be true when in 2010 several news agencies unearthed cities which were still unoccupied. According to an estimate as many as 64 Million housing units are lying vacant whereas in cities like Beijing and Guangzhou, the real estate is overvalued by 70%.
Following into the footsteps of our neighbor, India too tried to push for modern infrastructural projects in Tier-2 and 3 cities. A slew of projects undertaken included building 8 new airports in tier-2 cities. While, there is nothing wrong with building airports but it becomes a goof up if there is not a single flight operating and people started calling it a Ghost Airport. But, when we look through the eyes of a politician, everything becomes crystal clear. The decision was taken to please the vote bank and conveniently neglecting the golden rule of demand and supply in the process.
The Airports Authority of India has invested in some airports without any economic logic. Every state government wants to have a big airport, but you have to look at it from a national perspective and say where do we need airports, where is the demand and the growth coming from? — Kapil Kaul, Chief Executive, Consultancy Centre for Aviation (CAPA).
Here, are the latest additions to the list of growing sparingly used domestic airports in India also known as “Ghost Airport”:
1) Mandakalli, Mysore, Karnataka (MYQ)
The picturesque airport which was revamped in recent past fell off from India’s aviation map when the last public carrier Spicejet ceased its operations. The airport is unique with its small runway which prohibits medium and large aircrafts from operations here. Also, the scope of expansion is minimal as the Airport is located between a National highway and the famous Chamundi Hills.
2) Nal, Bikaner, Rajasthan (BKB)
The airport operated by Airports Authority of India (AAI) as a Civil Enclave on the Bikaner Airforce station. The airport inaugurated on 29th June, 2014 is still eager to host its maiden flight out of the city. Though, there were talks of Air India starting operations through its small aircrafts but nothing has materialized as of now.
3) Jaisalmer, Rajasthan (JSA)
The plush new airport at Jaisalmer, developed by AAI was widely reported as a Ghost Airport when Rueters published some photographs of this unused airport lying isolated in the desert. This Ghost Airport was planned to connect the far-flung locations in Rajasthan where air travel is becoming a trend.
The terminal which cost the exchequer more than Rs. 100 Cr is lying in shambles with more pigeons frequenting the place than humans.
4) Nanded, Maharashtra (NDC)
Nanded has virtually no flights scheduled if we don’t consider the private aircrafts flying in and out. Nanded holds a special place in the hearts of Sikhs because of the Takht Sachkhand Shri Hazur Saheb, one of the 5 takhts and several other Gurudwaras. Operated by Reliance Infra, this airport once had flights from Kingfisher and GoAir. But, poor demand made it financially unviable to continue the operations.
5) Gondia, Maharashtra
The development and modernization of Gondia Airport is a classic case of appeasing the vote bank and keeping the economics out of it. First developed by state in a tribal area, Gondia Airport was undertaken by AAI for upgrade. It was shocking why does an airport which is already rarely used being upgraded at a cost of whopping Rs. 200 Cr.
But then we realized that the Civil Aviation minister Mr. Praful Patel, the then Member of Parliament might have been the motivation. Just Saying.
And just when you start abusing UPA government for their crappy vote bank appeasing policies, you realize that BJP is no less for that matter. Mr. Narendra Modi too played this card not so long ago during Bihar elections when he pledged to spend $413 Million on development of 4 airports.
They (the government) need to realise it’s not a case of ‘build the airport and we will come’. — Sanjiv Kapoor, COO, SpiceJet Ltd.