India plans to carry cheap air travel to masses

NEW DELHI: India approved a civil aviation policy Wednesday aimed at making air travel affordable for millions of Indians and vastly expanding the country’s aviation market.

The government said the long-awaited reforms will bring down airfares to 2,500 rupees ($37) per hour of flying time on many under-served regional routes, particularly away from big cities.

Air travel in India is mostly confined to the urban third of the population, and is largely out of reach for hundreds of millions of people.

The Civil Aviation Policy overhauls rules dating back to the 1930s and received input from stakeholders from across the airline industry.

“Today history has been made. Since Independence, India has never had any civil aviation policy,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, a cabinet minister, told reporters.

The minister said the government would look to develop about 350 dilapidated or underused airstrips across India, many dating back to World War Two, into “no frills airports”.

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