Friday, November 10, 2017

Ahmedabad airport runway to undergo resurfacing: Passengers to face long queues, stuffy toilets and lack of seats

The Ahmedabad airport runway ordeal is not over yet for Amdavadis. After six months of extensive runway resurfacing, pumping in crores of rupees last year that led to cancellation or rescheduling of flights, the runway had to be repaired thrice during the rains, upsetting flights and unsettling passengers. Brace yourself again for unending queues, unbearable loos and inadequate seats at the airport between February and April next year when the runway is likely to remain closed during the day for resurfacing.
Close to 30 flights that operate during the day are likely to get rescheduled keeping non-operational runway time in focus causing further congestion for passengers during morning and evening hours. Ahmedabad has 3.505 km long and 45 metre wide main runway that was resurfaced at the cost of about Rs 25 crore in 2016. After rains had dented the runway thrice between June and July this year, the Airports Authority of India had ordered an inquiry and found the resurfacing work to be shoddy.
Subsequently, two employees were suspended for poor quality inspection and one staffer was transferred from Ahmedabad airport in September. As part of corrective measures, the authorities are now planning an overhaul of the runway again. With Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport very busy these days with VIPs and politicians frequenting the airport, the work will not start soon but it is expected to start early next year.

This will make runway non-operational for about two months for about eight hours daily. Earlier when runway resurfacing work was carried out between April 16 and October 29 in 2016, flight operations were suspended from 10 am to 6 pm. All the flights were rescheduled in morning and evening adding to crowding of passengers during peak hours in the morning and evening. Amdavadis are yet to come to terms with those six months of 2016 when they had to report few hours early, stand in long queues and board flights from the crowded, stuffy airport terminal building. It won’t be surprising if the nightmarish days return to haunt them for two months in early 2018.
According to a highly placed airport source, the airport is likely to be shut from 10 am to 5 pm from February 16 to April 15 next year. This is considering clearer weather in Delhi and no peak travel season along with other important factors to commence such work. Airport Director Manoj Gangal said, “Rigorous planning is going on to decide the work time and period.

We will also take into account clause of defect liability period into consideration in agreement with the agency that constructed the runway.” Ahmedabad airport handles more than 90 scheduled flights making it over 180 movements in a day currently. Air Traffic Controller (ATC) has capacity to handle close to 20 movements in an hour with existing infrastructure. Looking at flight schedule, during peak hours ATC handles more than 12 movements in existing scenario which may further load ATC with more flights in morning and evening hours.
10/11/17  Alok Brahmbhatt/Ahmedabad Mirror