It’s been more than six months after the authorities decided to decongest the city airport, by developing the Juhu aerodrome, but the plan is yet to be implemented.
The Airport Authority of India has passed the buck to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for the delay. “We are unable to augment the runway capacity because the BMC does not allow us to move construction material. Despite sending them several letters, they made no efforts to clear the hutments from Juhu,” said PK Nagpal, regional director, AAI.
The BMC denies receiving any letters. “If they are facing a problem, they should approach me, and if there is an issue, I will ensure that it is resolved,” said Ramesh Pawar, assistant municipal commissioner, K-west ward.
In January, the AAI had decided to develop Juhu as a complimentary airport, based on a feasibility study done by the KPMG. The study found that the Juhu complementary airport could relieve the city airport of 15% of its load.
The AAI is also facing trouble in getting security cover at Juhu. Despite several letters sent to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the AAI hasn’t received a response. “Are we waiting for big security disaster to hit Juhu?” asked Nagpal.
Airport sources added that diverting small planes, such as turboprops, to Juhu would be necessary for the implementation of a recent report by NATS, a UK-based service provider, which projects that the airport’s flight handling capacity can be increased by 60%.
“The report suggests reducing the distance between aircrafts from five nautical miles to three nautical miles. This is possible only with similar aircrafts. Turboprops could disturb the momentum,” said an air traffic control (ATC) official requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to talk to the media.