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DGCA refuses to increase number of flights from Patna

Given the infrastructure constraint, the DGCA has decided not to entertain requests for new flights till the Jay Prakash Narayan International Airport, Patna, becomes operational round-the-clock.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2017 12:34 IST
Ruchir Kumar
Ruchir Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
DGCA,Jay Prakash Narayan International Airport,JPNI Airport
A long queue of passengers at the entrance of Jay Prakash Narayan International Airport, Patna(HT photo)

The director general of civil aviation (DGCA) has rejected a proposal by airlines to increase the number of daily flight departures from Patna in the winter schedule, which became operational a fortnight back.

Airlines had suggested increasing the number of daily flights from 36 to 44, with IndiGo and GoAir pitching for more flights. However, given the infrastructure constraint, the DGCA decided not to entertain requests for new flights till the Jay Prakash Narayan International (JPNI) Airport, Patna, became operational round-the-clock. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has agreed in principal to make the airport operational 24x7 in the summer schedule from March 27 next year.

All airlines have to seek time slots from the DGCA before introducing new flights. The AAI, which the DGCA consulted before turning down airlines’ request, cited infrastructure constraint at the JPNI airport to accommodate new flights within the existing 7.50am to 8.40pm timeslot for flight operation.

Given several encumbrances in the approach funnel (landing path of an aircraft) and the instrument landing system (ILS) available in Patna, the DGCA mandates a minimum of 1200-metre visibility for flight operations. During peak winters, when visibility is poor due to fog, the effective flight operations is reduced from 12.30pm to 7.30pm or even less, leading to bunching of flights in afternoon. The airport has only four aircraft bays to cater to existing 36 flights.

Against an annual capacity of 0.5 million passengers, the Patna airport recorded two million passengers in 2016-17. With the number of flights increasing from 26 to 36 during this period, passenger footfall is expected to cross the 3-million mark in 2017-18.

Facilities at the airport touched a new low when on November 10, flight delays by up to five hours, led to passengers squabbling with airline staff, raising protests and even having to sit and sleep on floor inside airport terminal building.

“To avoid such a situation, we have banned visitor entry from November 14. We will allow passengers inside terminal building only two hours before the departure of their flight,” airport director Rajender Singh Lahauria said.

First Published: Nov 13, 2017 12:34 IST