From the terminal you catch your domestic flight will dramatically change after three years when the entire domestic flight operations will move to the Sahar side of the Mumbai airport by 2010.
The brand new 1B domestic terminal constructed with an investment of nearly Rs 180 crore and currently used for departure of private airlines will be demolished to make space for cargo operations.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel stated this during his Coffee with HT interaction on Saturday at the HT office in Mahim.
"The Mumbai airport has a historical problem. There is no space to move an inch in this land locked airport. There has been a 50 per cent growth in traffic. The master planning on redevelopment is almost complete. It is a very complicated task, but I can guarantee that this existing airport will be converted into a brand new one by 2010," Patel said.
He added, "The entire passenger movement will be handled from the Sahar side from where both domestic and international flights will operate. One airport should not have terminals at two different locations. The space occupied by the existing domestic terminals at will be converted into cargo area. Here there will be storage capacity for cargo"
Admitting that infrastructure growth could not take pace with the rapid increase in air traffic, the minister said that the introduction of satellite based communication and navigation technology by 2008 will enable airports to handle the growing traffic.
"With this technology upgradation we can effectively, safely and reliably handle the volume of air traffic and there is nothing to worry" the minister said while commenting on any possible mishap in an overcrowded sky.
This also means that the ongoing flight delays of 30 to 40 minutes at the Mumbai airport will be reduced substantially.
Patel said that considering the rapid growth in passenger traffic there was no other option but to complete the construction of the second airport at Navi Mumbai at the earliest. "There is acute pressure on the existing airport. If we don't act fast, Mumbai will be the looser. "
Putting the ball in Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's court Patel said, "If he can give us the land what we require, we can start work immediately. We have already identified the land and completed technical feasibility. If land is available he should give it to us. Even if he can allot a large portion of land by 2007 and give us a commitment of transferring the balance amount of land at a later stage, we can complete the new airport by 2012. It is a challenge and I am willing to accept it."
He said that though he had a series of meetings with Deshmukh in Mumbai and Delhi the land allotment has not yet taken place. "If you have the land gives it to us. Nobody is asking for a free ticket and land has to be valued. Then we will build the airport. And, the new airport will have to be connected with a trans harbour link by the state government, other wise there will be a problem in connectivity," the minister said.
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