It will facilitate air cargo and long-distance international flights from Mangalore

Minister of State for Civil Aviation (independent charge) Praful Patel on Saturday said that the runway at the airport here would be extended in a year's time to facilitate air cargo and long-distance international flights from Mangalore.

Mr. Patel told presspersons on the sidelines of the inauguration of the new integrated terminal building that operation of long-distance international flights would need a 9,000-ft-long runway against the 8,000-ft-long runway now in use. Airports Authority of India (AAI) sources said that land required for extension of the runway was in their possession.

Long overhaul flights, which carry more than 200 passengers and fuel required for three-and-a-half hours, are heavier and need a longer runway.

Cargo complex

Mr. Patel said the AAI “will build a cargo complex in Mangalore. There is a need to create cargo facilities here. Once the runway is extended, direct import and export will begin from Mangalore,” he said.

On the demand for international status for the airport, Mr. Patel said, “This was made a customs airport keeping the old terminal building in view. The new integrated terminal building is one of the pre-requisites for an international airport.”

He promised that the proposal to declare it an international airport would soon be taken up in the Union Cabinet. Earlier, in his inaugural address, Mr. Patel said that there was a demand for operating direct flights to Saudi Arabia from here. This would be possible only after the extension of runway. “The demand for flights to Saudi Arabia and beyond will be fulfilled,” he added.

He said the Centre would spend an additional Rs. 100 crore for infrastructure development at the airport and hoped that the new terminal building would propel economic growth of the region. “Mangalore will truly become a big international airport. I will do all that needs [to be done],” Mr. Patel said.

The Indian civil aviation market was now at the ninth position in the world and it would soon be among the top five, he said.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyrappa said the State Cabinet would soon decide on sanctioning a Rs. 9-crore project to lay an additional approach road to the new terminal building.

He urged Mr. Patel to ensure that more carriers started operating international flights from Mangalore. At present, only Air India offers such services.

Stating that Mangalore had great growth potential, he said he would meet all the demands of the city within the next three years. He expressed happiness that the new terminal building and the airport in Mysore were being commissioned in time for Global Investors' Meet and coincided with the completion of two years of the BJP government.

He urged Mr. Patel to start flight services from Bidar, which had the required facilities.

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