CHENNAI: The Union government is planning to add more than 50 airports and heliports across the country for improving regional connectivity, but development of smaller, existing airports in the state is yet to take off.
The move to set up heliports may also take time as the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is yet to identify locations where helipads can be set up. An official said the heliport plan has been included in the budget so that work can be started to identify locations . “If helicopter operators and the government are interested, the suitable locations can be identified quickly,” he added.
Of the small airports listed for development under regional connectivity scheme Udan, only Salem used to have regular flights. Vellore, Neyveli, Thanjavur and Ramnad were the other airstrips that were included in the scheme when it was launched more than five years ago.
Flights on the Chennai-Salem route were discontinued after the airline operating flights ran into trouble.
An Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said that all civil work has been completed in Vellore and Neyveli, and work is on to get permissions for operating flights from these airports.
At Thanjavur, a defence airfield, more work needs to be done before it’s ready to operate civil flights. AAI is also working to make Tuticorin airport ready for night flights.