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The Central and state governments should obtain requisite clearances and acquire all land before signing the concession agreement with a private company to build a greenfield airport, said Noida International Airport CEO Christoph Schnellmann on Tuesday.
After winning in a competitive bidding process, Zurich Airport International had on October 7, 2020, signed a concession agreement with the Uttar Pradesh government to build the Noida international airport near Jewar, at an estimated cost of Rs 29,560 crore.
In July 2021, the state government handed over 1,334 hectares of land to the Swiss firm for phase-1 construction. The airport will start handling flights when the first part of the phase-1 construction will be over by September 2024.
Currently, the UP government is in process of acquiring 1,181 hectares of land in six villages in Gautam Buddha Nagar district for phase-2 work on the Noida airport in Jewar. The airport will be built in three phases over 4,752 hectares. Some sections of villagers in the past have opposed land acquisition for the airport project.
On Tuesday, Schnellmann said, "To encourage foreign direct investment as well as domestic private investment, these (greenfield airport) projects should be planned and tendered when all requisite clearances (such as environment clearances) are in place, and when the government sponsors have acquired the land and made the land available before the project is concessioned, and that there is a robust and sustainable concept for connectivity -- rail as well as road -- as part of the airport's development phase."
The government is currently building metro and speed rail to connect the Noida airport with Delhi and other cities. However, this metro as well as speed rail will not be there in 2024 when the airport will start handling flights and passengers after the part-1 construction.
"We are very much in support of the plans to develop additional greenfield airports. While there is a robust policy framework in place, we would encourage the state sponsors -- be it the Central government or the state government -- that as they develop these projects, there is an adequate balance of risks between the private promoters and the state promoters," Schnellmann said during a conference organised by PHD Chamber Of Commerce and Industry.
In March this year, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had in Lok Sabha said that the government plans to increase the number of airports in India from 140 to 220 by 2025.
Schnellmann said that Centre and state governments should ensure that there is a level playing field between the greenfield airports and the existing airports.
"New airports will start activity at a lower level of traffic. The government can do much to support them in their early stages of development in terms of extending GST subsidies for construction, waiver of charges such as CNS (communications, navigation, and surveillance) and security," he mentioned.
Above and beyond that, it should be ensured that there is a level playing field in terms of bilateral traffic rights. "New airports do have the potential to develop domestic and international traffic on par with the existing airports," he said.
For the airlines of a particular country to operate international flights to another country, the two sides have to negotiate and sign a “bilateral air services agreement”, which decides how many flights (or seats) per week can be allowed to fly from one country to the other.
Once such an agreement is signed, each country is free to allocate the bilateral rights to its respective airlines and airports.
After the part-1 construction, the airport will be able to handle 12 million passengers per annum. After all four parts of construction, its capacity will increase to about 70 million passengers per annum.
Zurich Airport International had outbid Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), Adani Enterprises and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings Limited to win the 40-year concession for the Noida airport on November 29, 2019.
Zurich Airport International is itself a 100 per cent subsidiary of Flughafen Zurich AG, a listed company that operates the Zurich airport.
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First Published: Tue, November 22 2022. 20:41 IST