Extended runway to be commissioned

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EXPANSION MODE: The facade of Tiruchi airport. PHOTO: R.M. RAJARATHINAM
EXPANSION MODE: The facade of Tiruchi airport. PHOTO: R.M. RAJARATHINAM

S. Ganesan

Work on the Rs.26-crore project started in March 2004

TIRUCHI: The extended runway of Tiruchi Airport will be commissioned on January 1, paving the way for commencement of new air services to the city.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the airport officials held on Wednesday, airport sources told The Hindu . The decision will be intimated to the Airports Authority of India headquarters, to give the mandatory advance notice, for appropriate follow up action.

The extension of the runway from about 6,100 feet to nearly 8,000 feet was taken up at a cost of Rs.26 crore. The work began in March 2004, but ran into considerable time overrun owing to various factors. Civil works on the project was completed recently, though the glide path calibration is still awaited. A few ancillary works apart from laying the `final layer' on the existing runway are also pending. These works are to be taken up in due course even as the safety clearances are obtained.

The airport authorities have decided to go ahead with the commissioning of the expanded runway without waiting for the glide path calibration. Sources say that this would not be a major impediment for air operators as flights could be operated without the Instrument Landing System. The decision comes in the backdrop of demand from air operators for a firm commitment from the airport authorities on the `operational availability' of the extended runway.

Meanwhile, a team of Air India Express experts, after a recent visit to assess the infrastructure at the airport, had reportedly expressed reservations over the strength of the taxiway and the apron.

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