Arguments against shifting helicopter ops to Juhu refuted by airport officials | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Arguments against shifting helicopter ops to Juhu refuted by airport officials

Airport officials have debunked the argument by select business houses opposing the moving of helicopter operations from Mumbai airport to the Juhu aerodrome. Soubhik Mitra reports.

mumbai Updated: Dec 17, 2010 02:26 IST
Soubhik Mitra

Airport officials have debunked the argument by select business houses opposing the moving of helicopter operations from Mumbai airport to the Juhu aerodrome.

The Hindustan Times, on December 15, had reported that industrialist Mukesh Ambani and his brother Anil had separately written to the civil aviation ministry opposing the decision to shift chopper operations to Juhu citing inadequate ground infrastructure. The move came after the Airport Authority of India (AAI), on December 10, stopped private helicopter operations from Mumbai airport to reduce congestion.

"Juhu is one of the busiest airstrips for helicopter operations in the country. Its aircraft hangars for parking, maintenance and repairs are perfect," said a senior ground staff at Juhu, requesting anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

According to industry estimates, the Juhu aerodrome accounts for 75% of helicopter traffic in the country followed by Delhi and Pune.

Airport sources said corporate houses are reluctant to shift chopper operations to Juhu because the air traffic control (ATC) management set up in Juhu is rigid compared to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. "At Juhu the air traffic management works from 9 am to 5 pm unlike the 24-hour set-up at the Mumbai airport. Juhu largely caters to single engine choppers that are not allowed to fly in the night," said a senior air traffic control official requesting anonymity.

Most business houses use state-of-the-art advance twin-engine helicopters. There is no proposal to extend the work hours of the Juhu ATC.

Secondly, the time gap observed between two chopper operations in Juhu is around an hour. "Industrialists use choppers to move at jet speed. The time gap is too much for them to handle," the official added.

Meanwhile, AAI chairman, VP Agarwal, was in the city on Thursday to discuss augmenting infrastructure at the Juhu aerodrome. There is a proposal to divert small planes such as turboprops to Juhu to further decongest the country's second busiest airport. "We would have to develop terminals for passengers before implementing that plan," said an AAI official.

AAI also wants to shift private jet operations out of Mumbai airport to Juhu. Around 28 private planes owned by corporates use the Mumbai airport regularly.