UNION Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said on Sunday due to the delay in the commencement of work on the Navi Mumbai airport, the administration would now concentrate on expanding the Juhu airport.
“Juhu airport will be very important in view of the delay in Navi Mumbai airport construction. There are constraints at the Mumbai airport and it will not be able to handle additional traffic,” Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said in Mumbai.
The Navi Mumbai airport project has still not taken off as the state is yet to finalise a rehabilitation package for the people living in the area and to be affected by the project.
Chief Secretary J K Banthia said 70 per cent land acquisition for the Navi Mumbai airport was complete and the state government was now in the process of relocating high-tension wires from the proposed site.
At present, the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport handles nearly 30 million passengers annually. An expansion programme now underway will increase its capacity to 40 million passengers. However, there is still a need for creating more capacity and the state was expecting that the Navi Mumbai airport, which was to be completed by 2015-16, could take off part of the load.
The plan to expand the Juhu airport includes extending of its main runway into the sea to enable it to handle A320 and ATR turbo prop planes.
‘Head office in Mumbai bleeding Air India’
Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh stood by the decision to move Air India’s headquarters to Delhi and leasing out the iconic Air India building in Mumbai. In view of the financial condition of Air India, Singh said, maintaining the head office in Mumbai was bleeding the company. He said almost all government offices were located in Delhi and a large number of senior officials from Mumbai had to travel to Delhi for work. “Every day, on an average, we have 100 people from our Mumbai office flying down to Delhi for work,” Singh said. By moving the headquarters, he claimed, the airline would be rationalising its operational and administrative expenditure.