Pune airport, which operates from an Indian Air Force base, has become the fastest growing civil airport in the western region by passenger numbers. Passenger traffic at the airport is growing at an impressive 29 per cent this year, the highest among 28 airports under the Western Region Headquarters of the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
Officials said the number of daily flights at the airport has touched 200 from 158 last year. At this rate, the airport is expected to cross the 10-million-passengers-per annum mark this year. In 2017-18, the airport recorded 20.6 per cent growth in passenger traffic.
The feat is remarkable considering that Pune is the only airport among top airports (handling more than 5 million passengers per annum) operating only ‘Code C’ aircraft. The other top airports handle bigger aircraft, giving them an advantage in terms of passenger traffic. According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), aircraft with wingspans more than 24m but less than 36m — such as Boeing 737-700, Airbus A-320 and Embraer ERJ 190-100 — are ‘Code C’ aircraft.
AAI Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra, who was in the city recently to review the performance of airports in the western region, said that passenger growth in Pune region was promising and a result of recent expansion of passenger amenities and new flights.
“Pune airport is growing both in terms of revenue and passenger handling. I must complement them for the growth and constant improvement that the airport has seen in the last few years. We have seen noticeable improvement in passenger amenities. The growth is praiseworthy especially considering that they have a complete embargo on daytime flights and all new additions are coming in the night,” he said.
Mohapatra, however, cautioned that the growth number was a result of the low base levels and were difficult to sustain. “Passenger number is growing at 29 per cent in the ongoing year. These are highly unsustainable rates,” he said.
“Personally, for selfish reasons, I want them to come down and stabilise because these are very difficult rates to maintain in the long run. The appetite is always initially more and then becomes stable,” said Mohapatra.
As per a global ASQ (airport service quality) survey held in March in the sub-category of airports handling 5 to 15 million passengers per year, Pune was preceded by Kolkata and Ahmedabad airports in the rankings.