Ambanis don’t want chopper ops from Juhu | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Ambanis don’t want chopper ops from Juhu

The Ambani brothers have separately written to the civil aviation ministry, asking it to review its decision to shift helicopter operations from Mumbai airport to the Juhu aerodrome, said sources in the civil aviation ministry.

mumbai Updated: Dec 16, 2010 02:21 IST
Soubhik Mitra

The Ambani brothers have separately written to the civil aviation ministry, asking it to review its decision to shift helicopter operations from Mumbai airport to the Juhu aerodrome, said sources in the civil aviation ministry.

Sources told HT that both Mukesh and Anil are unhappy with the infrastructure (parking bays and maintenance facilities) at Juhu. “They feel Juhu is not prepared for the service,” said a senior ministry official, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Since December 10, helicopters have not been allowed to take off and land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, a move aimed at de-congesting India’s second busiest airport.

The rule, however, does not apply to choppers used by VIPs such as chief ministers and Union ministers.

The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries owns two choppers, a Dauphin and Sirkorsky, while Anil Ambani's Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group uses a Bell 412 helicopter. Offices of both Mukesh and Anil refused to comment, neither confirming nor denying the letters.

Prior to December 10, the airport handled at least seven to eight helicopter movements daily. "Chopper movements eat into the take-off and landing slots that can be used by a scheduled flight," said an Air Traffic Control (ATC) official, requesting anonymity.

The airport's main runway is presently undergoing repairs. In October, the airport's domestic flight handling capacity was reduced by 12 slots daily for the winter schedule till March 26.

"The move to shift chopper operations is a good one to cut down congestion. But, the difference would clearly show only after private jets are also moved to Juhu," added the ATC official. Currently, around 28 private jets belonging to big business houses regularly use the airport.

Another plan to divert small planes such as turboprops used for scheduled operations to Juhu is also facing navigational hurdles. Airport Authority of India officials said it is risky to allow landing of flights simultaneously at Juhu and CSIA due of their proximity.