Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has started writIng to Chief Minister’s of various states as per a release from Press Information Bureau. The main agenda is to request the Chief Minister’s to expedite land acquisition. In Phase 1, he spoke to CM’s of five states. The five states are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Chattisgarh. Cumulatively, there is a need of over 1900 acres of land to ensure that airport expansion can start at airports in respective states. The highest requirement is from Bihar – where amongst five airports there is a need for 773.5 acres of land, while the lowest is in Andhra Pradesh where 74.6 acres of land is needed to expand three airports in the state.
In second phase, the Civil Aviation Minister spoke to states of Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Karnataka.
As per new rules, the land acquisition is under the state government and this has helped prevent the blame game between centre and states on why the airport is not being expanded to cater to the traffic.
Three airports from Andhra Pradesh feature in the list. Tirupati Airport – which serves the holy town needs 14.31 acres for extension of runway and other operational requirements. Tirupati already handles aircraft up to A321 and is a popular flight destination. The airport was one of the 30 which had seen expansion a decade earlier but soon was short of space. It has already operationalised the older apron for private aircraft.
Rajahmundry which sees traffic due its importance as a main gateway to drilling fields in the K-G Basin. 10.25 acres of land is needed for construction of residential colony. Kadapa – which was a new airport to become operational about seven years ago needs 50 acres for runway extension and Approach Lighting System.
The hilly border state of Arunachal Pradesh has been without direct connectivity for a long time. Airports like Dibrugarh in neighbouring Assam and helicopter services by Pawan Hans to Itanagar have been the connectors. A new airport at Hollangi is coming up. The government has big plans for Arunachal Pradesh with land requirements of 5.5 acres for installation of Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) and Doppler Very High Frequency Omni Range (DVOR) protection area and construction of Residential Colony for airport staff at Tezu Airport. Tezu was recently operationalised with flights from Guwahati by flybig. Another 70 acres at Dirang, 34.3 acres at Daporijo, 2.3 acres at Passighat, 7 acres at Along and 10.6 acres at Ziro. He said that the State Government needs to immediately operationalize heliports at Daparizo, Itanagar, Tuting, Walong, Yinghiong and Ziro,
Guwahati – the capital of Assam has reached a stage where additional movements are not possible in peak times. A combination of being a regional economic centre along with the Route Dispersal Guidelines have led to this situation. Over the last couple of years, there have been direct flights to other parts of the state like Dibrugarh and Guwahati has been connected to other regions in the state like Rupsi or Lilabari.
The government is looking for 78.5 acres at Dibrugarh Airport, 109 acres at Lilabari Airport, 116,5 acre at Silchar Airport & 50 acres at Jorhat Airport. He mentioned that the land required at Dibrugarh Airport will be utilized for future expansion of the Airport and necessary runway strip, while that at Lilabari Airport will be used for construction of Isolation bay, necessary runway strip and development of a new Aviation Manpower Training Institute. The land requested at Silchar Airport will be used to develop city side infrastructure and land at Jorhat Airport will be used for development of a New Civil enclave. Out of the total projected land only 8.5 acre of land has been handed over at Dibrugarh Airport, and rest of the land parcels are yet to be handed over by the State Government. When runway expansion is complete, Dibrugarh will be able to offer non-stop flights which can carry full load to Delhi or Bengaluru.
The highest requirement for land is at Bihar. Post lockdown, Patna has skyrocketed to being in the list of top 10 airports in the country. Patna Airport – which is bursting at seems and has limited scope for expansion needs 49.5 acre for runway extension, parallel taxi track, Doppler Very High Frequency Omni Range (DVOR) equipment, Isolation Bay and Glide Path.
Purnia Airport needs 50 acres to develop new civil enclave. The airport is currently not operational and is located in North – East Bihar. Also on the agenda is to start operations at Raxaul and 121 acres are needed to ensure the airport can handle ATR-72 type of aircraft. Raxaul is on the India – Nepal border and is a large transit point for goods and people. This is one of the British era airstrips which are no longer operational, run down and needs a complete revamp.
Darbhanga – which was operationalised in November last year and has been seeing new connections needs 78 acres for development of a new civil enclave along with CAT 1 approach light system. The civil enclave which was built has some challenges like being inside the Air Force station, which requires passengers to alight and walk towards the terminal. Muzaffarpur needs 475 acres to handle A320/B737 operations. The current airstrip is not active and would need a new area to start from scratch.
The state saw Bilaspur being connected to Prayagraj and Jabalpur recently. 569 acre of land is needed at Raigarh for development of the airport to ensure that ATR72/Q400 aircraft can operate in Phase-1 followed by expansion to handle A320/B737 in Phase 2.
The state has seen many airports being activated or constructed with expansion at few existing ones. Belgavi, for example, needs 370 acres of land for expansion and 348.6 acres has been handed over. AAI also wants to expand Mysore Airport and has requested for 240 acres of land, which has not been handed over yet. Mysore currently has an airport which can cater to only ATR72/Q400 type and the city has traffic potential to add flights to other parts of the country if the runway and terminal is extended to cater to A320/B737 type of aircraft.
Shivamoga and Vijayapura airports have already received bids under RCS-UDAN but the flights are on hold
Gujarat has many airports which have been able to cater to ATR72 / Q400 only or have severe land crunch and cannot add additional bays.
There is a requirement of 490.36 acres of land at Bhavnagar to make it suitable for operation of A320/B737 type. Jamnagar – which is a front line base of Indian Air Force and has a civil enclave, needs 17.38 acres for development of city side infrastructure. Kandla needs 322.85 acres, primarily for the runway to ensure that is long enough for Airbus A320 / B737 series. Likewise, 434.5 acres is needed to expand Porbandar airport.
For existing airports in the state, Vadodara needs 18.33 acres for parallel taxi track and 96.93 acres at Surat for installation of CAT-I approach lighting system and extension of runway. Interesting as it might seem but the state government has been asked for allocation of 2100 acres for a second runway at Surat.
Ranchi, the gateway to the state, needs 506.4 acres for expansion which is yet to handed over. AAI is also projecting a need of 545 acres of land at Dhalbhumgarh (near Jamshedpur) to make it operational. An approach road to Deoghar airport is needed to start operations.
The pandemic has moved the focus on Tier 2 routes from the metro routes. The newer airports could see connectivity under RCS-UDAN while expansion of existing airports would help add more flights and connectivity. It is a heartening sign to see the minister start pushing states for land acquisition. This is the only way to develop airports rapidly and achieve the Prime Minister’s dream of operationalising airports rapidly.