After a month of its inauguration, the newly constructed third runway of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi become commercially operational today with the landing of a British Airways plane early this morning.
"The third runway, all of 4,430 metres long, became operational with the landing of a British Airways plane from Heathrow at 6.20 am," a Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) spokesperson said.
The Civil Aviation Ministry yesterday, in a meeting chaired by Joint Secretary K N Srivastava, had decided to make the new runway (29-11) commercially operational from 6 am this morning.
The runway, 4,430-metres long and 75-metres wide, can handle wide bodied aircraft like Airbus 380 or Antonov 226 and will also ensure that there is less air congestion.
The ministry had decided that the new runway would become operational with the landing of an Air India plane but it landed third as it was given clearance from the Air Traffic Control based on the actual position in the sky.
The ministry had decided that for now, all arrivals would be handled by the existing main runway (28-10) but planes will take off as many as possible from the new one (29-11). The ministry has also asked all airlines to send a copy of their winter schedule to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for approval.
DIAL the company executing the airport's renovation has been asked to take adequate measures to prevent bird-hits. However, there is one slight hiccup: the planes taking off will spend an extra 15 minutes as taxi time because the runway is a little away from the terminal buildings.
The runway was constructed in 18 months, six months ahead of schedule and tested on August 21 in the presence of Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel. It is expected to increase the capacity of flights per hour to nearly 60-70 from the present 35-40.