Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel today said Mumbai required a second airport urgently as the existing one was on the verge of reaching the “saturation point”.

“Mumbai, our financial capital, needs to have a second airport fast as the current airport is coming to a saturation point. ... Equal amount of support is required on the (aviation) infrastructure front,” he said in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who inaugurated the new integrated Terminal 3 at the IGI Airport here.

His statement came in the backdrop of delay in the grant of clearance by the Environment Ministry to the Navi Mumbai airport project, which was approved by the Cabinet in May 2007 through the public-private partnership mode.

Mr. Patel had earlier expressed anguish over the delay, saying the day when the existing Mumbai airport would not be allowed to take additional flights was not far. “It has almost come to a stage that it can’t take any more traffic”.

He had said the situation at the Mumbai airport was so grim that there are hardly a few hours in a day when there is “little space” to carry out maintenance and repairs on the runway.

On the issue of installation of full body scanners at important airports, Patel said “these (scanners) would be installed only after a proper study and analysis. People have objections to it as it invades their privacy.”

He also said that very soon Airports Authority of India, which has undertaken the modernisation of 35 non-metro airports, would complete the renovation of terminals by next year and within few days the renovated terminal building of Ahmedabad would be opened.

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