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Chandigarh

Posted at: May 17, 2018, 2:42 AM; last updated: May 17, 2018, 2:42 AM (IST)

Brief closure of runway doubled upgrade cost

Had it been closed for a year, cost would’ve come down from Rs 450 cr to Rs 220 cr: Air Commodore
Brief closure of runway doubled upgrade cost
The runway resurfacing work under way at the Air Force Station in Chandigarh on Wednesday. Tribune Photo: Manoj mahajan

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 16

Shutting down the runway at the Chandigarh international airport for a limited period to facilitate its expansion and upgrade more than doubled the cost of the works that are being undertaken during day as well as night.

“The cost of the runway upgrade is Rs 450 crore. Had the runway been closed for about a year or so for the same task, the cost would have been around Rs 220 crore,” Air Officer Commanding, 12 Wing, Air Commodore S Srinivasan said. “In addition to this is the cost involved in moving and operating military assets and manpower to alternative airbases for the said duration,” he said.

The runway was earlier closed from February 12 to 26 and is now closed from May 12 to 31 to carry out the long overdue resurfacing. Additional works pertaining to runway extension as well as installing lights and navigational aids will be undertaken by restricting flight operations. Completion of the three-phase project, scheduled for mid-2019, will enable day and night operations by heavier, wide-bodied aircraft for commercial operators required for international flights.

While civilian flights have been completely suspended, the Air Force has moved its aircraft to Ambala and Agra for carrying out its routine air maintenance sorties. The Air Force dispersal bay is also being renovated with a new surface and additional facilities like refuelling hydrants for IL-76 aircraft as well as a new larger and modern air traffic control complex.

The IAF, which controls the runway and air traffic services in Chandigarh, also expects seven to 10 additional flights to start in the near future. “While the runway will be able to accommodate ‘4-E category’ aircraft like the Boeing 777 and Airbus 330, their operations from Chandigarh will depend upon the capability of the Chandigarh civilian airport to host them in terms of availability of compatible aero-bridges and ground-handling facilities,” Air Commodore Srinivasan said. A proposal to improve the infrastructure at the civilian terminal is under way.

The IAF has also proposed that to facilitate faster aircraft movement, a “partial’ 600 to 800-metre-long parallel taxi track, funded by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), be constructed on the available land within the Air Force Station. “At present, aircraft on landing have to taxi to the edge of the runway to turn around and then move on the runway to the terminal. Till this time, another aircraft cannot land or take off, requiring greater time interval between flights,” an officer said. Constructing a complete taxi track, roughly equal to the length of the runway, would require procurement of a large chunk of additional land as well as demolition of several existing structures.

Air Commodore Srinivasan said the Defence Ministry had sent a proposal to the Ministry of Civil Aviation for acquiring the old airport terminal building. “The tarmac at the old civilian terminal belongs to the Air Force, while the building belongs to the AAI. Since it is not viable to convert the building into an office, it can be put to use for facilitating Army movements, logistics, undertaking disaster management operations or other operations in wartime,” he said.

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