Madhya Pradesh Government has assured to sanction 50 acres of land in the state capital for developing a cargo hub in Bhopal. In a meeting held on April 17, Chief Secretary Sudhiranjan Mohanty said the old airport facility will be utilised for cargo services in Bhopal till the new facility is developed. He instructed the Collector of Bhopal to mark the appropriate land for the purpose of constructing a separate cargo centre for Bhopal Airport.
Reducing Aviation Turbine Fuel is on cards
The state government is also willing to reduce VAT on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) provided airlines come up with a concrete proposal to connect new cities from Raja Bhoj Airport. Airlines have been demanding a reduction in VAT on ATF from the existing 25% tax slab. Mohanty said that the state government will consider a reduction in VAT on ATF if night parking and cargo facility is made available at the Bhopal Airport and the number of flights is increased.
Kalpana Shrivastava, Commissioner of Bhopal division said the cargo hub in Bhopal will start its services in the next two months from Bhopal. The high VAT on ATF at Bhopal has been an irritant for airlines operating from the city. ATF constitutes around 40% of the overall cost of a flight and airlines have been requesting the state government to reduce VAT on an immediate basis.
Lowering VAT on ATF will make a strong case to consider expanding/starting operations from Bhopal. Neighbouring states such as Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand that slashed ATF are witnessing increased connectivity post cutting down VAT. Six years ago, the state government had reduced VAT to 5% but failing to attract airlines, it was raised to 25%.
– Anil Vikram, Director, Raja Bhoj Airport, Bhopal
The issue was discussed at a meeting of senior officials chaired by chief secretary SR Mohanty. The chief secretary assured that the tax reduction could be considered only if airlines also reciprocate by starting more operations from Bhopal. Presently, Air India, SpiceJet and IndiGo are operating from Bhopal.
He said that the state government will coordinate with Air India to connect Bhopal with international flights. He told the representatives of domestic aviation companies to present work plan related to increasing the number of flights from Bhopal for the country’s prominent cities like Lucknow, Bhuvaneshwar, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Amritsar including Jabalpur and Gwalior.
Air India on Monday announced that the first international flight from Indore to Dubai that will take off on July 15. The announcement comes hardly three weeks after Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport of Indore received immigration clearance from the home ministry.
Efforts are on to bring in more and more passenger as well as cargo traffic from tier-I and tier-II cities to Indore as over the years the city has emerged as the business capital of Madhya Pradesh.
Aryama Sanyal, Director, Indore Airport
Air India has already started taking bookings for the inaugural flight, and over a dozen people booked tickets within the first six hours. The flight — an Airbus A320 with 162 seats — is likely to take off from Indore on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and the return one from Dubai is on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.