New Delhi - Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed to expand the country's airport capacity by more than five times to handle a billion trips a year under a new "NABH (NextGen Airports for Bharat) Nirman" initiative.
According to Jaitley, the balance sheet of Airports Authority of India (AAI) will be "leveraged to raise more resources for funding" this expansion.
"In the last three years, domestic air passenger traffic grew at 18% per annum and our airline companies placed orders for more than 900 aircraft," Jaitley said in his Budget speech.
"Regional connectivity scheme of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) initiated by the government last year shall connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads across the country. Operations have already started at 16 such airports," he said adding that the policy initiative has enabled even a ‘hawai chappal' (slipper)-wearing person to avail the benefits of air travel.
On promotion of Sea Plane activities, Jaitley said: "For promoting tourism and emergency medical care, government will make necessary framework for encouraging investment in sea plane activities."
Commenting on the Budget speech, SpiceJet's Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said: "I am pleased that the Finance Minister has recognised our experiment with Seaplanes and its viability in promoting tourism and emergency medical care."
"This project has the potential to convert every river into a runway and every pond into an airport thus providing hundreds of thousands of airports to the country."