Mangaluru, Sep 25, 2017: It is becoming clear radually that the runway extension at Mangalore International Airport (MIA) has been shelved as the state government is delaying the acquisition of 62 acres of land required to extend the runway length up to a distance of 3050 metre which is mandatory for wide bodied aircraft to land at Mangaluru air port.
Itis known that the land acquisition proposal was submitted to the government as early as in 2006 as per the master plan prepared by Airports Authority of India (AAI) which had requested the agencies concerned to reserve the land for airport development purposes.
The development of airport hinges upon acquiring the land and handing over the land to the AAI for preparing the budgets to take up the projects at the earliest.
The present scenario is that the airport is handling a passenger traffic of more than 18 lakh from just 2.86 lakh in 2005-06. The airport was making an operating loss of more than Rs 4.5 crore approximately in 2005-06 which is presently making an operating profit of above Rs 50 crore approximately.
Kannur airport a hurdle : At a time when Kannur International airport, which is just 150 kms from Mangaluru, with a 4000 metre runway is all set to operate, any delay in extension of runway in MIA will prove detrimental.
Once wide bodied aircraft operations start operating to Saudi Arabia and Europe, from Kannur, it will attract major airlines like Emirates and Fly Dubai among others and obviously, the competition which will ensue will not be favourable to Mangaluru due to its shorter runway.
A serious reluctance is seen on the part of the Government of Karnataka (GOK) to consider the proposals of airport development in Mangaluru who should therefore be more concerned with the regional development plan when such plans are offered to it. But it is apparently seen that it is being cold shouldered time and again.
It may be mentioned here that the earlier proposal submitted in 1989 to construct second runway in Mangaluru took 14 years for the government to acquire land and hand over the land to AAI which was done only in the year 2003. It then took another four years for handing over the land for construction of terminal building. It took another three years for handing over another piece of land and the private building adjacent to apron which was causing security threats to airport activities.
At the same time, the development of airport road by KIADB sadly took more than seven years to lay the road which is hardly 900 metre in length.
Runway proposal : The latest proposal submitted by AAI for constructing 3500 metre length of the runway in MIA is over Rs 4,800 crore. On the other hand, if the required length of the runway is limited to operation of an aircraft of the type Boeing 767 or 777, a length of 3050 meter will suffice and the cost will be drastically reduced.
It needs to be mentioned here that now AAI has a stretch of land measuring 3100metre x 150metre (several places strip is being developed), including the present runway available with it on the hill top and it requires only 240x90 metre area of land on both the sides to be acquired to provide Runway End Safety Area (RESA) and 600x60 metre land for providing precision approach landing lights.
Thus, the airport requires hardly 79 acres of land for extending the runway. The part of this land is available with AAI at the central portion and the land to be acquired is attached to this land all along.
The next best thing what the GOK can do is to bring down the cost of filling the valley to initiate an aeronautical survey on the feasibility, instead of extension of present runway 06/24 to provide runway 07/25 anew from the present start of runway 06 on the new integrated terminal building side. For this will make ample land available without disturbing valley.
The runway may pass through old terminal building area and will not affect populous area. This runway 07/25 can get land for runway length up to a distance exceeding 4000meters if properly planned. Since AAI is already developing a parallel Taxiway filling the valleys, it will release a great amount of land for runway strip of 300 metre width. This proposal should be given proper weight. This will also enhance safety in every respect for the aircraft operations.