Jamnagar airport gets international status for Anant Ambani’s pre-wedding bash

Airport passenger building expanded, toilets renovated; Friday saw 140 aircraft movements instead of the usual six

March 01, 2024 08:40 pm | Updated 09:15 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Jamnagar airport.

Jamnagar airport. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Jamnagar airport has been declared an international airport for 10 days for the Ambani-Merchant families to be able to welcome global bigwigs such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Rihanna, Ivanka Trump and several former Prime Ministers to the three-day pre-wedding bash of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant, starting March 1.

 The airport can welcome international flights from February 25 to March 5, said an airport official. The Union government’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Home Affairs have pressed in resources to set up a Custom, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facility at the airport.

Jamnagar is a defence airport where commercial flights are already allowed; the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has erected a passenger terminal building for the purpose. However, for billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s youngest son’s special celebrations, the IAF has permitted access to its sensitive “technical” area as well.

“Upto three aircraft are being accommodated in the technical area at a given time,” said an airport official on the condition of anonymity. The civilian area of the airport can accommodate six small aircraft such as Falcon-200s or three big ones such as the Airbus A320s. On Friday, a total of 140 aircraft movements (arrival and departures) were expected, up from the usual six movements the airport witnesses, the official said.

The airport expected guests like Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Friday, as well as Saudi Aramco’s chairperson Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Disney CEO Bob Iger, American billionaire businessman and chairman of global investment management firm BlackRock Larry Fink, and former U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. The list also includes Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper.

Indian celebrities include Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Shah Rukh Khan, M.S. Dhoni, and Sania Nehwal, among others.

In preparation for the massive inflow of guests, the AAI has also expanded the size of its passenger building from 475 sq.m to 900 sq.m, allowing it to accommodate nearly 360 passengers during peak hours as compared to 180 earlier.

“Expansion works were planned much earlier but were expedited for the event,” the official said.

The airport has also enhanced manpower in “every vertical”. Thirty-five housekeeping staff have been added to the existing strength of 16; the State government has also doubled the deployment of security personnel from 35 to 70; ground handling agencies have raised the strength of their staff from 65 to 125.

Similarly, the Indian Air Force has also deployed more military men at the Air Traffic Control tower.

Toilets at the airport have been renovated and paintings installed too.

Apart from the several private jets that have brought in guests from around the world and within the country, Air India Express has also pressed in three 180-seater Boeing 737 aircraft that will be conducting a total of 18 flights. Bangalore-based regional carrier Star Air has also deployed its 76-seater Embraer E175 aircraft to ferry guests.

SpiceJet also operated a cargo flight on February 26, bringing international foods. The airport will see a total of four cargo flights during the week-long period.

After Friday, March 4 will now be the next busy day for the airport when most guests are expected to depart.

However, usual commercial passenger flight services will continue unhindered.

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