Friday, July 09, 2021

Regime change yet to impact Trichy airport’s runway plan

Trichy: Almost 12 years after a land plan schedule was drafted by Airports Authority of India (AAI) for expanding Trichy international airport’s runway, there has been no progress in land acquisition thereby hindering the growth of the state’s second busiest international airport. What has disappointed aviation enthusiasts and local people is the continuing delay in the matter despite a new government at the helm .Even though the existing runway is only 8,136 feet in length, Trichy airport in May handled 10,323 passengers, higher than those handled by Jaipur, Amritsar and Kolkata international airports. Acknowledging the airport’s role in the geographical centre of the state connecting several districts, AAI mooted a proposal in 2010-2011 to extend the runway length to 12,500 feet. This would enable the airport to handle wide-bodied aircraft and augment its passenger and cargo handling capacity.

While it was estimated that 683.3 acres would be needed for the expansion project including 345.6 acres in the purview of the state government and 337.7 acres of defence land, only 35.86 acres has been acquired so far. Only about 10% of the required land was acquired, that too in 10 years. Aviation enthusiasts point out that the airport has registered significant growth with the limited infrastructure.

“There are airports that handle fewer international passengers than Trichy but has a longer runway. Although work is under way for a new passenger terminal for about Rs 1,000 crores, the shorter runway is preventing the airport from tapping its connectivity and export potential,” H Ubaidullah, an independent aviation analyst said. Since 2011, at least four emergency take-off/landings at Trichy airport exposed the insufficient length of the runway. Flights that were supposed to make emergency landings were diverted to Chennai as it was unsafe to land on a shorter runway.

09/07/21 Deepak Karthik/Times of India

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