Highest loss-making airport in North East is in Agartala

Agartala: Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Tripura’s capital Agartala has topped the list of loss-making airports in northeast India. A report presented before the Rajya Sabha shows that among the ten operational airports managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in the region, liabilities for MBB Airport are pretty high.

In the previous financial year, the airport incurred losses to the tune of Rs 80.67 crore. Data shows the airport has been reeling under losses over the last five fiscal years. In the financial year of 2020-2021, the total loss stood at Rs 71.97 crore. In the preceding three financial years, the airport incurred losses to the tune of Rs 36.40 crore, Rs 40.50 crore and Rs 36.97 crore.

However, Agartala airport is not the only loss making airport in India’s northeast region. Most of the ten AAI-run airports in the northeast region are only increasing the burden of expenditure on the government. After Agartala comes Imphal, which incurred losses of over Rs 26 crore in the last fiscal year. It is followed by Dimapur, with losses at Rs 22.26 crore, then Dibrugarh with Rs 18.67 crore losses, and the Shillong Airport with a net loss of Rs 10.65 crore.

The least loss-making airports in the region include Assam’s Tezpur airport with losses at Rs 3.32 crore, Jorhat with Rs 3.94 crore loss, Silchar at Rs 5.92 crore and Arunachal’s Tezu Airport with 6.95 crore in losses. The data shows no details about the Aizawl airport.

On being contacted, an official of the Airports Authority of India Northeast Region explained this as a consequence of the very limited money-making resources at these airports. The Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, which was the only profit making airport of the region under AAI, is now being operated by the Adani Group under the public-private partnership model.

“The losses are especially high in Agartala because the terminal has been developed with world class facilities, which requires additional manpower. The airspace for Agartala airport is also very little, which is why Flight Navigation Service charges are very low. The airport barely gets any landing charges. The only money AAI makes here is from departures.”

Meanwhile, most of the commercial area of the airport, which could be major revenue generator, is also still vacant. This includes cafes, open space for shops and different kinds of other service outlets. While the expenditure on the infrastructure is very high as compared to the returns, a lot of people have been recruited on contractual basis for the smooth functioning of the airport.

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Moreover, the development works going on at Kailashahar airport in Unakoti district is also a factor which is causing a lot of expenditure. It is worthy to be mentioned here that a total of 14 airports across the country have been leased to private partners for daily operations. According to the National Monetization Pipeline, 25 more airports have been set for private operators. In North East, Imphal airport and MBB Airport Agartala fall in the list of 25 airports.  

Also Read | Tripura CM: Confident of govt’s work, unhappy with employees’ results

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