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Airport just not enough for Pune to take off

Expansion of the city’s airport is underway. Even then, at best, the airport will just about meet domestic flyers’ needs. All eyes on Purandar then

pune Updated: Oct 15, 2017 23:12 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune airport,not enough,Purandar
Lohegaon airport is currently struggling to cater to the growing passenger numbers. (RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO)

With Pune growing as an educational and IT hub, air traffic from Pune has seen a substantial increase over the years.

According to statistics available with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), air passenger traffic in Pune in 2013-14 was 35,907,117 which increased to 41,90,409 in 2014-15.

The air traffic further increased to 54,909,397 in 2015-16, which in 2016-17 increased to 65,102,005. Officials from AAI have stated that in 2017-18 this air traffic from Pune is further expected to increased to 8.1 million passengers. This consistent increase in air traffic has made the expansion of the existing Lohegaon airport the need of the hour.

Speaking about the same Pune airport director, Ajay Kumar said, “The air traffic from Pune is increasing at a rate of 30 per cent every year. Considering this increase, expansion of the Pune airport has been planned.”

Kumar stated that the expansion will be on 15.84 acres of land and presently the work of the boundary wall is being undertaken. “The expansion work will gain speed once the rains are over,” he added.

With growing passenger traffic, the present airport building of 22,300 square metres is becoming insufficient. Kumar said, “As part of the expansion, a building of 42,000 square metres will come up on the eastern side of the existing airport. With this, the space available will increase to 64,300 square metres.”

Kumar further stated that a multilevel parking lot for close to 500 cars is also being planned. The expansion of the existing airport is likely to be completed by 2020-21. Presently, to accommodate the rising number of passengers, renovation work has been undertaken within the existing building at the Pune airport. Officials informed that 12 new check-in counters are also likely to come up at the airport by March 2018.

Domestic taking off

Of the increasing air passenger traffic from Pune, the major rise is seen in domestic flyers. The percentage of overseas flyers has not seen a major increase in recent years. According to officials at the Pune airport, since 2013-14 there have been 2.5 lakh international fliers from Pune. This number has not changed much.

“For international destinations larger aircraft are used. Due to the shorter runway, wide- body aircraft cannot be operated, which is a limitation. To address this issue we have sent a proposal to the defence ministry to extend the existing runway by 1,000 metres,” Pune’s Lohegaon airport director Ajay Kumar said.

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 23:11 IST