New Delhi: In a bid to give a boost to civil aviation sector and enhance air connectivity to Tier-II and Tier-III cities, the government has proposed to set up three new low-cost airports in Bihar at Muzaffarpur, Raxaul and Gaya as part of 50 airports in the country identified for the purpose.
The Minister of State for Civil Aviation, G.M. Siddeshwara, told the Rajya Sabha, "While Gaya is an operational custom airport, Raxaul will be a non-operational airport."
He added, "The development of an individual airport depends upon many factors such as availability of land, availability of mandatory clearances, environmental clearances, traffic projections, and provision of support services by the State Government. The support services include access road to the airport, water supply, power supply, services of State Police and State Fire Staff."
Gaya, a famous pilgrim centre, is already equipped with an operational international airport while Muzaffarpur and Raxaul have airfields primarily used by government owned aircraft. The airport at Gaya is not used by any scheduled airlines in the country for domestic operations, and the international operations are restricted to flights from neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Malaysia among others due to the short runway.
The idea of developing 51 low cost airports, which was aimed at boosting the civil aviation sector and enhance air connectivity to Tier-II and Tier-III cities, was initiated by the erstwhile UPA government.
It had identified states like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra for the purpose.
Bihar is home to 21 airfields in the state at present, of which, three are under the control of the Indian Air Force — Bihta, Purnea and Darbhanga.
Nine other airfields have been put in the category of "kachha" and abandoned airfields including Jehanabad and Ara among others. The rest are categorised as metalled runways, having reinforced cement concrete airstrips.