Pune airport expansion to take off soon

Air passengers can expect better service as Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar has sanctioned 15.84 acre defence land for capacity expansion of the Lohegaon airport. Parrikar has asked the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to start work immediately without waiting for the bureaucratic process of transfer of land.The additional land will be used to park aircrafts, subsequently helping increase frequency of flights. The expansion is likely to result in an approximately 45% capacity expansion at the airport.
The defence minister held a series of meetings with the officials of AAI, Indian Air Force (IAF), the district administration of Pune and state government before announcing the transfer. “The expansion of Lohegaon airport will happen in two phases. The decision on the second and final phase of expansion will be taken in the next two months. No further expansion is possible because of security reasons,“ Parrikar said. The civil operations at the airport have increased by a good 30% in the last one and a half years.
There are 66 scheduled flights and the annual passenger count has crossed the 55 lakh mark.
The defence ministry has also given an in-principle go ahead to building an alternate road connecting the airport with Vimannagar. “The Air Force, earlier, did not agree on the plan because the road was dividing the IAF land into two parts.Now it's been realigned and we have given it an in-principal go ahead,“ said Parrikar.
“The proposal for a new international airport is a long-term issue and it will take time. Till then, the city needs a fully functional airport. The additionally allocated land will be utilised exclusively for parking aircraft,“ said MP Anil Shirole, who heads the local Airports Advisory Committee (AAC).
The Pune airport is a part of the Indian Air Force's Lohegaon air base and currently handles 126 civil aircraft movements.
It has eight parking bays, two of which are reserved for VVIPs, emergency movement, non-scheduled aircraft and the remaining six handle nearly 64 flights every day .
The Lohegaon airport is part of the defence air field controlled by the IAF. The air field is a base for the IAF's frontline Sukhoi fighter aircraft. The Air Force Station (AFS) controls the runway and air traffic control.

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