In a matter of weeks, passengers flying in to Delhi will not be treated with hour-long bird eye visuals of Gurgaon and the NH-8 while their plane hovers above the airport, waiting for permission to land.
The new runway at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), which was inaugurated on Thursday, promises to make air traffic congestion a thing of past.
The 4,430-metre long runway, the third longest in Asia, was scheduled to open for commercial operations from August 28 but it will now be opened by the first week of September.
As the Air India ‘proving flight’, a Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft named ‘Chattisgarh’, descended smoothly on the new runway amidst a light drizzle on Thursday, the runway was formally inaugurated.
“The runway will start from next month and will take a few months for operations to stabilise,” said Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, who inaugurated the runway.
A spray of water welcomed the aircraft, which first performed a fly past then came back for final touchdown. The plane’s was flwon by commander Captain Cyrus Edukar, and second officer Himanshu Rawat.
What to expect
When the new runway becomes operational, the airport will be able to handle up to 60 flights per hour, as compared to 35-40 flights per hour at present.
“The new runway (29/ 11) would be used for landings and the main runway (28/ 10) for take-offs,” said an official of Airport Authority of India, which manages air traffic services at IGIA.
The smaller secondary runway (27/ 09) will be used as a backup when one of the primary runways has to be closed for maintenance.
A new ‘Performance Based Navigational System’ is also expected to become operational from September 1. This is expected to bring down the minimum separation between airborne aircraft from present 5 nautical miles to 3 nautical miles.