UNION DEFENCE Minister Manohar Parrikar held a series of meetings with officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Indian Air Force, Pune District Administration and State Government representatives to speed up the much-needed expansion of Lohegaon Airport. The expansion, he said, is likely to result in a 40 to 45 per cent capacity expansion of the airport.
Parrikar said all the major hurdles in AAI getting the 15.84 acre land on lease for the expansion have been removed and the work on this land will commence soon. The Air Force is providing the plot to the AAI on a 30-year lease to help the airport cope with the growing traffic.
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“This work on the 15.84 acre plot will be the Phase-I of the airport expansion. We are also considering another 30 acre plot which will constitute the Phase-II work. By the end of the Phase-II, the new airport for Pune city should be ready because beyond a certain limit, the Lohegaon Airport cannot expand,” said Parrikar, adding that the there has been a 30 per cent increase in growth in the civil operations in last one-and-a-half years. He said, presently, 66 scheduled flight operate from the airport and the annual passenger count has crossed 55 lakh.
He said that to avoid any delay, the AAI has been asked to commence the work on the 15-acre plot even as the formalities on the lease agreement continue.
“They can start the work immediately. We don’t want them to wait until the long bureaucratic process finishes. They will be asked to build up a compound to avoid any security breaches. It may take about 4-5 months for the buildings to come up,” said Parrikar.
He said that the Air Force has also given an in-principle go-ahead to building of an alternate road connecting the airport and Viman Nagar.
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“The Air Force was not agreeing to the former plan submitted because the road was dividing the Indian Air Force land in two. Now it’s been realigned and we have given it a in principal go ahead,” said Parrikar. A widening of the present approach road to the airport has also been agreed to.
District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat and Airport Director Ajay Kumar were among those present on the occasion.