GoM to discuss airport near Delhi

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Jun. 10--NEW DELHI -- Agroup of Union ministers led by home minister P. Chidambaram will meet on 16 June to discuss the Uttar Pradesh government's proposal to build an airport on the outskirts of New Delhi, two civil aviation ministry officials said on condition of anonymity.

New Delhi's airport operator is opposed to the proposed Taj International Aviation Hub at Jewar in the Greater Noida area. It fears the competition would jeopardize its investment of Rs12,700 crore to modernize the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Two airports do not make financial sense, an executive of Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) said, declining to be named. Current rules do not permit a second airport within a radius of 150km from an existing one but an exception was made when a proposal to set up an airport at Navi Mumbai, near Mumbai, was cleared last year.

DIAL has the first right of refusal to build the Jewar airport if the government decides to go ahead with the project.

Analysts said even if the proposal is cleared now, it will take a few years for the new airport to become operational and the expected rise in air traffic could justify the move.

Aviation minister Praful Patel has said India's air traffic is projected to grow 8.5% per year until 2015, and may exceed that if the country maintains its growth momentum.

"In today's economic environment with growing business potential, monopolies should just not be allowed to exist," said Jitender Bhargava, former executive director of national flag carrier Air India. "Competition will not only help airlines get better rates from airport operators, but will also be beneficial for passengers in terms of lower user development fees."

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