Some of India’s newest airports are dying a slow death.
Several Indian airports, including ones in popular tourist destinations such as Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and Mysore in Karnataka, have been lying deserted for years.
According to a Reuters report, India has spend Rs326 crore ($50 million) since 2009 on constructing and renovating eight airports that do not receive scheduled flights. Most of these terminals were constructed by the previous government. Encouraged by rising air travel in the country, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had planned to build as many as 200 low-cost airports.
However, this investment splurge has left a trail of ghost airports.
More than half of the 100-odd domestic-only airports operated by the Airports Authority of India did not see a single scheduled flight this year, according to Reuters.
Earlier this month, a report by the Lok Sabha listed 30 airports in the country that were not operated between 2014 and 2015. Among them were airports in Cooch-Behar and Malda in West Bengal, Warangal in Telangana and Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh. The government had also allotted Rs13 crore during 2014-15 for maintaining these terminals.
“The AAI (Airports Authority of India) has invested in some airports without any economic logic,” Kapil Kaul, Delhi-based chief executive at consultancy Centre for Aviation (CAPA) told Reuters. ”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?”
Despite these concerns, prime minister Narendra Modi announced four new airports in Bihar, which holds elections later this year. These airports are expected to cost Rs2,700 crore ($413 million).
Here are pictures of the Jaisalmer Airport, which cost $17 million (Rs 110 crore), and has been lying unused for almost three years. The airport can handle more than 300,000 travellers a year and has parking bays for three 180-seater narrow-body jets.