Ajit Singh requests State government to give additional 285 acres to stretch the runway to 3,400 metres

Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ajit Singh said here on Monday that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) would extend the concrete runway at Mangalore International Airport if the State government hands over an additional 285 acres of land.

Addressing a gathering after inaugurating the cargo complex at the airport the Minister said if the land was made available the concrete runway (rigid pavement runway) would be extended up to 3,400 meters to handle larger aircraft like Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 777-200. “I will request the State government to provide the land to the AAI,” he said.

The existing concrete runway is 2,450-metere long and the length of the old tar runway (flexible pavement runway) is 1,468 meters.

He said that the cargo terminal at the airport had a floor area of 1,400 square meters for handling international cargo and 1,100 square metre of floor area for handling domestic cargo.

“The facility has annual holding capacity of 5,000 tonnes for international import cargo and 13,000 tonnes for international export cargo. It has the annual holding capacity of 18,000 tonnes for domestic in-bound cargo and 21,000 tonnes for domestic out-bound cargo,” Mr. Singh said.

He said that the cargo complex was electronically linked with the centralised cargo server at Kolkata thereby further enhancing the utilisation and effectiveness of the available infrastructure.

The Minister said that initially the scheduled passenger flights would carry the cargo which was technically called “belly load”. As the city already had sea cargo facility the basic infrastructure in terms of cargo handling agents and cargo handlers existed.

“I am sure that over a period of time business will evolve and exclusive cargo flights will operate to and from Mangalore,” he said.

The Minister said that Air India would introduce a new flight between Mangalore and Dammam from March 31. The flight would operate twice a week.

Mr. Singh said that wherever new terminal buildings have been commissioned the old terminal buildings are being converted into cargo terminals with minor modifications.

He said that there has been a demand from the cargo trade to create a cargo hub and freight city in the country. To achieve this it was important to develop regional airports and set up cargo terminals to provide connectivity with metros. “To achieve this, the AAI has already set up cargo terminals in the southern region at Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, and now at Mangalore,” he said.

The Minister of State for Civil Aviation K. V. Venugopal, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily spoke.

Though the Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar was scheduled to attend the function, he stayed away. Mr. Singh and Mr. Moily felicitated former director of the airport M. R. Vasudeva for his contribution to the development of the airport.

‘Safe airport’

Mr. Singh made a mention of the Mangalore air crash of 2010 in which 158 people were killed, but insisted the airport was safe despite having a table-top runway

“The accident shook the entire nation. But I must assure the audience that at government-level we will make all the efforts to make this airport as safe as any other. I am aware that there are some compensation issues which emerged after this unfortunate accident. I understand the matter is likely to come up in the Supreme Court. At our level, we will always honour the decision of the court,” he said.

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