Flying to Shirdi from the city might be possible by October as authorities are hopeful that the airport in the pilgrim town will get operational licence by the first week of September. With a task action plan being submitted to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) by the operator of the airport last week, only a date for inauguration is awaited, officials said.
The airport will cater to scheduled and non-scheduled flights from across cities. As Shirdi has not been classified under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), the fares per trip would be market driven.
In a joint inspection by the DGCA and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) last month, certain corrective measures were listed to the current operator of the airport – the Maharashtra Aviation Development Corporation (MADC).
“There were certain operational issues witnessed at the airport during the visit. They (the officials) were informed about the minimum requirement of manpower, parking facilities and other less significant issues. They should be able to work on them within the given time,” a senior AAI official said.
The AAI is providing equipment of Communication Navigation Surveillance and Air Traffic Control for operations at the Shirdi airport. October also marks the centenary celebrations of Sai Baba of Shirdi by the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, which has partly funded the airport.
“The DGCA inspection listed certain points for correction required at the airport. We have worked on most of these and sent a task report to them. We are eyeing the deadline of first week of September to get the required clearance,” Valsa Nair, Principal Secretary, civil aviation, the Maharashtra government, said.
Between October and December, the daily frequency of flights is likely to increase. Three airlines, TruJet, Alliance Air and Zoom Air, have already discussed schedules with the operator, officials said.
“We eye eight flights on a daily basis in and out of the airport in October. As of now, the airlines that have a good stock of ATRs in their possession have expressed their interest towards scheduling flights for Shirdi airport. By December, a daily operation of 18 flights in and out of the airport could be eyes once major airlines join the fleet. We only await an inauguration date,” C S Gupta, General Manager, MADC said.
Gupta said the airport will also see night landing operations, details of which are yet to be discussed. The airlines will disclose their flight schedules and fares once the airport secures a license.