The Mangalore Airport has successfully reached its 60th year of operations. It has come a long way from December 21, 1951, when it received the first Dakota aircraft which carried the then prime minister Jawaharalal Nehru and the MP of Mangalore Ullal Srinivas Mallya, to now becoming a sterling new airport. The Mangalore Airport has contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of the region, giving people easy access to international destinations in the West Asian countries. This has led to Mangalore, North Kerala and West Coast of Karnataka becoming more affluent. "One of the top three airports of the 35 tier II city airports in the country, the Mangalore Airport has just crossed the limit of 16 flight movements per day, getting out of the 'light airport' category into the 'medium airport' category. But its passenger movement has increased by three times, from 2.77 lakh passengers in 2005 to 8.5 lakh passengers in 2010. However, it may not yet be ready for the international tag as it requires a 9000 feet runway and an international-level air traffic system. We now have 8038 feet of runway which can safely land A320, A319 and Boeing 737-800s," said Vasudeva, airport director. "The New Integrated Terminal Building (NITB) is now fully operational. The beauty of this new terminal is that it is comparable to any international airport either in Mumbai or Delhi, but it is scaled down in size and operations due to traffic. Passengers will get the same services and facilities they get in bigger cities," he pointed out. "There has to be more hinterland development for international flights to see a spurt in growth. Districts like Udupi, Kasargod, Shimoga, Uttara Kannada, Chikmagalur and Hassan will have to develop overseas business to increase international traffic from the Mangalore Airport," he said. He also revealed that Spicejet was interested in flying to Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi. The city is also connected to the US, UK, Australia, and other countries via Bangalore International Airport."We have been insisting from the beginning that the Bajpe Airport is safe for any operation and in all weather conditions. It has the required length of runway for safe landing of any aircraft at any given point of time. The limitations posed by the table top terrain were tackled in 2006 when the runway was extended, realigned, and widened; in addition, it is equipped with instrumentation landing system -I (ILS-I), which is capable of guiding aircraft to absolute safety even during bad weather" Vasudeva said. About the reported mining operations around the airport, Vasudeva stated that all the mining activities have been stopped.