New Pune airport will take 5 years

The new Pune airport at Purandar taluka will take at least five more years to be built and become operational, district guardian minister Girish Bapat said. Bapat said the expansion plan for the existing airport in Lohegaon was in sync with the new airport project, which will be ready in five years. Bapat's statement goes against claims made by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis earlier. While announcing the project last year, Fadnavis had said the new airport would be operational within three years.

Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited vice-chairman and managing director Vishwas Patil had also recently announced in Pune that the new airport would be ready by 2019, even before the one at Navi Mumbai.

Aviation experts and the business community said the delay could result in confusion. Besides, air traffic in the city, which is growing every year, could become too much for the existing airport to handle.

As per figures provided by the AAI, the revenue generated by the Pune airport was Rs.7.87 lakh in 2011-12, which increased each year since. In 2015-16, the revenue touched Rs.11.72 lakh. In terms of growth, the airport witnessed a growth of 23% during 2015-16. At present, it handles 142 scheduled flight movements, with as many as 16 new flights of different airlines in queue waiting for slots.

The delay could impact BJP's 2019 Lok Sabha poll prospects.

Bapat also said that the corridor between Pune and Saswad would be made wide and speedy. The MADC, meanwhile, said all announcements regarding the new airport will now come only after the elections.

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