Staff Correspondent

Three flights land and take off; runway yet to be commissioned

Jet Airways flight from Bangalore was the first to landConcrete runway is 2.45-km long and 46-m wideNow planes can operate at full load from the airport

MANGALORE: The new concrete runway built by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at Bajpe Airport here was opened for aircraft operations under visual flight rules (VFR) on Wednesday.

A Jet Airways flight with 95 passengers and eight crew on board from Bangalore became the first one to land on the new runway (which is the second runway at the airport) at 10.05 a.m. However, the new runway is yet to be formally commissioned.

Speaking to presspersons after landing, the pilot of the Jet Airways plane, Dayakar, who has over 11,000 hours of flying experience, said, "This runway is as good as any runway of international standards. I never expected this in Mangalore. This is a tremendous achievement."

M.R. Vasudev, Director, AAI, Bajpe Airport, said now all aircraft could operate at full load, which was not possible on the existing runway.

Mr. Vasudev said that planes could land at and take-off from the airport only under VFR at present. A committee of the AAI had to inspect the runway to install an instrument landing system. Once that was in place, planes could use the airport under instrument flight rules (IFR) at night and in bad weather, he said. Three flights used the new runway on Wednesday, including Kingfisher Airlines and Alliance Air (of Indian) from Mumbai.

Cargo

Special Correspondent

writes: The new runway will also help in increasing the movement of cargo between Mangalore and other destinations, both domestic and international. Mr. Vasudev said that one advantage that the new runway provided was that wide-bodied aircraft could land with bigger loads. Mangalore, which will soon have a Special Economic Zone, will see a growth in cargo volumes.

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