Fabulous infrastructure of airfields across India
Most of us might think that India has a smaller number of airfields. Each state barely has 2-5 airports. Although, reality is little different. India has close to 500 airports / airfields. Many of them are not used now or may be used in past. Vayudoot service when operated in eighties in India used to operate to many of these small and far-flung airports/ airstrips. When we say airfield, it includes airports, airstrips and grass or unpaved airfields. As a common men, we usually know only airports where scheduled commercial flights operate.
Airfields may be classified as:
· Airports managed by Airport Authority of India
· Defense Airfields
· Private airports
· State owned airstrips
AAI Airports : Airport authority of India (AAI) manages many airports across India that has been given to them by either central or state governments. In addition to manage airports, AAI is sole service provider of Communication and Navigation Services (CNS) to Aircrafts in Civilian use. AAI manages most of commonly known airports like Bhopal, Lucknow, Patna, Mangalore and the like. They all usually have commercial airline traffic. AAI is also working with private airport operators in PPP (public private partnership) model where AAI owns the airport and give to private operators to manage airport. Such airports are busier airports like, New-Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and the like. AAI usual monthly profit is over 200 crores. The earning of AAI comes from airport charges like landing, parking etc as well as from CNS.
Defense Airfields: Defense airfields are owned and operated by Defense forces. Many of defense airfields does not usually allow any commercial aircraft movement. Some of Defense airfields like Gwalior, Goa, Hindon and the like allow limited commercial aircraft movement.
Private Airports: India has very few private airports as well such as Birlagram at Nagda, Angul, Raigarh, Vidyanagar, Koppal and the like. These airports are owned and usually operated by private owners. Most of these airports are part of manufacturing plant set up and used primarily to ferry senior staff members and executives in special aircraft.
State Owned Airstrips: Each state usually owns airstrips in its small & medium towns or close to tourist destinations. Usually, these airstrips have been made for having better air connectivity. Few states have close to 25 airfields owned by them whereas few states do not have even one owned by them. These state-owned airstrips are usually not in great condition because of non-usage, illegal occupation, and destruction by local public due to open airfields. These airfields are barely used in an year by any state government aircraft or any special aircraft movement.
Unused airfields are usually marred by illegal occupation or construction. Many of such airfields are made unusable by construction of tall structure around the field. There are many such examples where fair size airfields are made unusable.
There is a need to manage and use the available airfield infrastructure for civilian use that can result in better connectivity. We are not short of airfield infrastructure. Although, we need administrative will to use this infrastructure.
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