India's Look East policy makes Chennai airport important: Ansari

Chennai, Jan 31 (IANS) The Chennai airport has attained greater importance in view of the country's Look East policy, Vice President M. Hamid Ansari said after inaugurating new domestic and international terminals and upgraded facilities at the Chennai airport Thursday.

"The importance of Chennai as a national and international destination is well established. It has attained greater importance in view of India's Look East Policy due to which greater economic and commercial integration with countries of east Asia and south east Asia is taking place at a rapid pace," Ansari said.

He said passenger and freight traffic to and from these countries was bound to increase. "With Chennai being the natural gateway due to its geographical proximity to these countries, the upgrade and modernisation of the airport is a timely and appropriate initiative," he added.

Ansari said the new international and domestic terminals can handle seven million international and 16 million domestic passengers annually.

Stressing the important role the civil aviation plays in the economic progress and integration of the country, Ansair said better air services help improve competitiveness among industries and growth in exports.

"By expanding the size of the market, aviation acts as a spur for innovation; increases sales and profits; allows greater scope for exploitation of economies of scales and thereby enhances competition by offering efficient and fast mode of transportation," Ansari said.

Referring to the growth of air transport sector in India, Ansari said during the last 10 years compounded annual growth rate of passenger traffic has been approximately 15 percent.

He noted that the central government has already given in principle approval for development of 15 greenfield airports. The Airports Authority of India is also upgrading and modernising 35 non-metro airports in the country.

"These steps will definitely help in providing better facilities and connectivity to the citizens in coming decades," Ansari said.

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