Not satisfied with a second airport sanctioned at Navi Mumbai, the state government has proposed a third airport—on what used to be a World War II airfield at Kalyan.
The Maharashtra government sent a proposal to this effect to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry last week.
The state government justifies the need for a third airport by pointing to the ever-increasing passenger numbers.
|Pie in the sky?|
|• State feels rising passenger traffic justifies need for third airport.|
|• But Civil Aviation Ministry says three airports within 100 km radius are not feasible.|
|• Analysts say air traffic control won’t be able to handle the pressure either.|
Passenger traffic in Mumbai is expected to hit 40 million a year by 2014. But Mumbai International Airports Ltd (MIAL)—which runs the existing airport—is confident of successfully servicing those numbers.
In fact, it is making an initial investment of Rs 5,200 crore by 2010 to upgrade infrastructure.
But, Maharashtra Civil Aviation Secretary Sanjay Ubale countered, "We don't know whether we'll get the clearance, but a third airport is a necessity." He added: "There is a World War II airfield lying unused at Kalyan (50 kms from Mumbai), which has a vast stretch of land but no airstrip. We are trying to see whether it can be converted into a full-fledged airport."
But the Centre is less than enthusiastic. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel felt that three airports within a 100 kms radius were impractical. "I have not received any such proposal. We are keen on the Navi Mumbai airport (45 kms from the existing airport), which has received technical clearance from the International Civil Aviation Organisation. There is a lot of traffic in the region and the airspace over Mumbai cannot accommodate a third airport," a less than amused Patel told
A civil aviation analyst, who declined to be named, pointed out that even New York does not have three airports. "A third airport in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region is impossible; air traffic control will not be able to handle the pressure," he said.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Airport Development Company Ltd (MADCL) has urged the ministry to allow smaller aircraft and private jets to operate from Juhu aerodrome.
"This will substantially ease the pressure on Mumbai airport. Even low-cost airlines are keen on starting services to Solapur, Nashik and Jalgaon from Juhu," MADCL's vice-chairman and managing director RP Sinha told
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