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Mar 17, 2017 09:25 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Regional connectivity scheme will add 50 airports in next 6 months: Jayant Sinha

Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha said that certain restrictions will be imposed on foreign players and they may not get all the privileges that Indian airlines enjoy.

The Aviation Ministry's ambitious regional connectivity scheme will add 50 airports to the country's existing 75 in the next six months, said Minister of State for Aviation Jayant Sinha.

The airports that fall under the "regional airport" category will be announced in a week's time, he said.

The country is currently witnessing 150 million passenger trips per year, whereas the US, with only a third of India's population, witnesses around 900 million passenger trips per year. The aim of the Regional Connectivity Scheme is to increase passenger trips three-fold, said Sinha.

"Affordable flying will be the theme for 2017, just as [Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagarik] UDAN is launched," he said.

Sinha said Qatar Airways, the first foreign airline company that has shown interest in setting up a 100 percent-controlled business in India, has not approached the government yet.

Sinha said that certain restrictions will be imposed on foreign players and they may not get all the privileges that Indian airlines enjoy. Discussions are still underway in this regard.

He also said the government has a robust transformation plan for the struggling state-run national carrier Air India. While efforts are being made to make it commercially viable, he said that Air India was not part of the government's strategic divestment plan for now.

Talking about the drone industry, he said the government is fully committed to facilitate the new technology, although it has remained conservative due to security reasons.

"We have been benchmarking draft drone regulations against other nations. We will soon be meeting stakeholder in the drone industry to figure out the way forward," he said.

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