Expansion plans for the Juhu airport could pose a roadblock for the proposed sea link between Bandra and Versova.
Officials from the state government and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had their first meeting to discuss the issue on Tuesday.
According to sources, the points of conflict between the two projects were addressed but the meeting was inconclusive. “It is a complex problem. We will need a series of interactions and a perhaps a feasibility study to reach a logical conclusion," said an AAI official.
The conflicts stems from the fact that the AAI wants to increase the length of Juhu’s main runway by 1,000m, which will result in the airstrip protruding into the sea. This would bring the airport’s take-off path a mere 700m away from the sea link, which is unsafe of flight operations, said experts. “Both the projects are equally important for the city's future. It is difficult to compromise on any of them," said another official requesting anonymity.
While the sea link could cut down travel time between the two congested suburbs, extension of the runway is essential to accommodate the increasing air traffic.
According to a feasibility study conducted by aviation consultants KPMG, air congestion at the Mumbai airport can be reduced if small planes such as turboprops or ATRs are diverted to Juhu. But that will require augmentation of Juhu's infrastructure starting from extension of its main runway.