Ajay Kumar, Airport Director, Lohegaon Airport. (Illustration: Shrikrishna Patkar/HT)(HT/PHOTO)
Ajay Kumar, Airport Director, Lohegaon Airport. (Illustration: Shrikrishna Patkar/HT)(HT/PHOTO)

Pune on my mind: Bigger airport needed in Pune for future demands, says Ajay Kumar

The city has so far lived in the shadow of India’s financial capital. However, a growing cosmopolitan culture and strong public and private infrastructure have made Pune an attractive destination for Indians living in major urban centres
Hindustan Times, Pune | By Ajay Kumar
UPDATED ON JUL 04, 2019 02:24 PM IST

Pune has everything you would want in your getaway. It exudes an alluring character of its own, making it one of the most desirable cities to live in the country. It is one of the historical cities of India with a glorious past, an innovative present and a promising future.

The city has so far lived in the shadow of India’s financial capital. However, a growing cosmopolitan culture and strong public and private infrastructure have made Pune an attractive destination for Indians living in major urban centres.

The city probably has more world class educational institutions per sq km than any other city we can think of! Despite the differences, the people live in peace and harmony with each other. The establishment of various industries and multinational corporations has added to the diversity.

I am more privileged to be a part of this vibrant city after my joining in Pune and I felt that I must take an opportunity to give my best to the city where eminent /intellectual personalities have resided and given their valuable time for the development of the city.

However, while doing so I have to see that airport operations are equally proactive as we have to keep pace with the public requirements as well as ambitions. I have had a delightful experience working along with the citizens of Pune.

After transfer from Delhi to Pune airport as airport director, I was excited to have an opportunity to serve this wonderful city. There were many challenges such as increase in operations, infrastructure development of the existing terminal building, increase in passenger facilities along with passenger safety and security issues.

Aircraft operations which were 33,760 increased to 59,888 in 2018-19. The passenger movement which was 4.19 million passengers during 2014-15 increased to 9.07 million in 2018-19. Cargo movement which was 27,390 million tonne (MT) in 2014-15 increased to 47,392 MT in 2018-19.

For better passenger satisfaction, extra efforts were made by establishing passenger facilities like duty free shop, restaurants, branded fast food outlets, snack bar, meet and greet services, pay and use toilet, massage chairs, money exchange counters, pre-paid taxi/autorickshaw, Ola/Uber services , branded shops and vehicle parking.

Increase in number of trolleys and three-seater chairs, baby feeding room, air circulators and other facilities were introduced in a big way.

Also new apron (198m x 100m) and link taxi (80m x 23m) were constructed to accommodate more aircraft. Green energy 300 KWP solar power system on top of rooftop hangars at Pune airport has been installed. Supply, installation, testing and commissioning (SITC) of 100KW flexible solar power plant (first time in Airports Authority of India) on kalzip (aluminium roofing and cladding) roof of terminal building awarded and sample installed. A new international cargo operation at Pune airport has commenced.

The AAI is now able to provide the facilities in the city such as canopy, passenger ramps, environment-friendly air purifier devices.

Also, to ease the traffic jam to/fro airport, the road development has been very essential as earlier there were small roads and the traffic jam was always faced by the passengers. So, priority was given for road widening, new road connectivity, traffic signal, improvement in traffic plan inside airport premises.

The Pune Municipal Corporation has contributed actively to carry out the construction of roads /new roads to make easy approach to the airport.

In a land area of 26 acres and building of 22,300 sq m, by changing the flow and reorganisation of different areas and to create more facilities so that the people of Pune must have more modern infrastructure the major hindrances for development of the infrastructure was land acquisition.

Continuous follow up with the several ministries, state administration, PMC, Indian Air Force was undertaken to expedite the process of land acquisition for new integrated terminal building project, multilevel car park and cargo infrastructure.

All these infrastructural projects have the potential to meet the requirements and demands of the citizens of Pune. It is the priority to successfully complete the project of terminal building construction, multi-level car park, cargo terminal, so that citizens will have state-of-the-art infrastructure with modern facilities. Continuous follow up, proper communication with higher authorities always leads to solutions.

The team building is a very important aspect in carrying out the works successfully and the Pune airport team was very strong to achieve the targets and complete it in the given time. Motivation and dedication of the team was such that Pune airport could give the passengers better facilities in a short span of time.

I am individually thankful to everyone who has contributed in development of Pune airport to this level. I thank all the stakeholders, AAI higher management authorities, Air Force authorities, state administration, PMC, state police authorities, airlines, CISF and passengers who have contributed in achieving the success and placing Pune airport in annual results of Airports Council International-Airport Service Quality (ACI-ASQ) survey for the year 2017 at third place in the world in the category of best airport by size among the airports handling 5-15 million passengers per year

Land is main resource and based on land availability, future improvement in infrastructure shall be taken up.

Changes in Pune is a continuous process on all grounds, with all these developmental changes Pune has to preserve its culture, history and tradition by which it is being recognized all over the world.

New bigger Airport is required for Pune to fulfil the future demand.

My earliest memories of Pune: I came to Pune for the first time in 1998 for diesel generator (DG) set inspection. It was a medium size city at that time having very less traffic.

State of Pune today: The city is a metro developing at very fast pace.

One change that I want to see in Pune: I would like having a civil airport with two runways and multimodal connectivity at Pune.

Story Saved