Infrastructure constraints and congestion of the only functional runway at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) could limit the capacity of the airport to add flights under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju said Tuesday. He stressed the need for making Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) operational at the earliest. Raju was in Mumbai to inaugurate an AAI building at Vile Parle. In an interaction with reporters, he said a city like Mumbai surely needed a second airport.
“A lot of airlines have shown interest in operating services under RCS — the flagship scheme of the government to connect under-served airports. Along with 70 airports at present, 33 more airports will be commercially connected under the scheme. Among the new airports to be operational, I am waiting for the quick inauguration of Shirdi airport, which will soon commence operations,” Raju said.
While the ministry had asked for 20 slots for operation of flights under the RCS, the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has agreed to part with eight slots. Among them, two slots will be taken by TrueJet airline to connect Mumbai and Nanded, while the rest will be used by SpiceJet connecting Mumbai to Kandla and Porbandar.
“We agree that the Mumbai airport is running at full capacity reducing the scope of adding flights under RCS due to the infrastructure constraints. Such concerns could have a negative impact on the desired number of flights under the scheme. Such concerns could be met with, by having another airport operational soon,” he said.
Raju added: The state government agencies and the AAI are working towards NMIA’s completion at the earliest. We are facing a few hiccups, which will be sorted out. However, we are enthusiastic about the new airport and feel it is better to be late in making the airport functional than never at all.”
He also said a report was being made by the authority on identifying buildings around the CSIA that exceed permissible height. “Safety is our biggest concern and we intend to keep it that way. Evaluation is on,” said Raju. He added that a feasibility study for the expansion of the Juhu airport had been undertaken. The meeting also discussed how airports like Aurangabad and Nagpur had been in major demand by the airlines for connectivity under the RCS.