As its amenities have been upgraded and work on the expansion of the new terminal building has started, Pune airport is now hopeful about being recognised as an international airport by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Once the airport gets the international tag, foreign airlines will be able to start operations from Pune, said Airport Director Ajay Kumar. He made the remarks at a press conference on Saturday evening to share information about the work done at the airport in the last few years, and about future plans for the airport.
Pune MP Anil Shirole, who was also at the press meet, said the acquisition of a 15.84-acre Air Force land in April helped airport authorities set up parking bays and larger security hold areas, which will allow the airport to accommodate more flights and passengers.
Explaining the plan for the expansion of the terminal building, he said, “It will add 42,000 square metres to the existing campus. Till 2014, the total land holding of Pune airport was 26 acres. Now, with the addition of 16 acres in April, it has gone up to 42 acres and we are working on getting more land. We need an additional area of 35 acres to set up cargo parking, new offices and buildings. I am following up on the issue and am hopeful about it. I have written to central ministers about it”.
Given the expansion of capacity in the last few years, the administration is now looking at obtaining the status of an ‘international airport’ to pave the way for more international flights, said Kumar.
In India, airports are classified in three categories — domestic airports, customs airports and international airports. Customs airports are those which have custom and immigration facilities for limited international operations by national carriers, and for foreign tourist and cargo charter flights. These include Gaya, Patna, Madurai, Pune, Bagdogra, Chandigarh and Visakhapatnam.
“Pune airport is a customs airport. Currently, we have only three international flights. Only one international carrier (Luftansa) has permission for operation, which was granted as an exception. Once we get the status of an international airport, it will be much easier for international carriers to operate international flights from Pune,” said Kumar.
Bigger building, more domestic and international flights
20 more flights planned
The Pune airport administration has sent a proposal to start 20 more domestic flight movements during the day — 6 am to 10.30 pm — to the Air Force. Airport Director Ajay Kumar said the request was sent as the airport has expanded its apron area and can host more aircraft. “At present, a total of 200 movements take place from the Pune airport. Of these, 100 movements happen during the day and 100 during the night. We want to increase the number during the day and have sent a proposal to add 20 movements, considering the increased capacity due to apron expansion,” said Kumar.
Rs 420 crore for terminal building
The expanded terminal building, estimated to cost about Rs 420 crore, will have a basement, two floors, parking bays for aircraft and multi-level car parking. “The building will have state-of-the-art facilities including five aero-bridges, eight escalators, waiting lounges and 15 lifts. The airport building will be connected to rest of the city via Metro and Maha-Metro is preparing a project report for it,” said Kumar.
In summer, the city may see better international connectivity as airlines such as Vistara, Jet Airways and IndiGo have approached the airport administration with requests to provide more slots for international flights in the summer schedule. “We expect these international flights to start from April 2019,” said Kumar. From December 1, Jet Airways is going to start a flight from Pune to Singapore.