The Airports Authority of India (AAI) today raised concerns about airport infrastructure planning and said it is not possible to extend the runways of major airports in the country due to non-availability of land. "Now, it is very difficult to extend the Ahmedabad runway. Same is the case with Rajkot, Chennai and Kolkata, where we can not extend the existing runway because of non availability of space, mainly due to the new Land Acquisition Act and construction in and around those airports," AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra said at a function here today. "All the top 20 airports in the country are struggling to manage the overwhelming traffic of both airplanes as well as passengers. The situation is worrisome, as not a single empty slot is available at major airports to accommodate new flights during the day time," he said. "Though Delhi airport is having three runways, not single slot is available between 7 AM till 10 PM. Same is the case with Mumbai. This is a matter of worry. Within just 7 to 8 years, Ahmedabad airport terminal's capacity is completely saturated. Same situation exists in all the top 20 airports," the AAI chairman said. Mohapatra, a Gujarat cadre IAS officer, was invited here by the Ahmedabad Management Association to take part in a felicitation ceremony and deliver a speech on "Aviation Infrastructure - Leadership Challenge". To put forward his point, he gave example of Heathrow airport and London Metro, both built around 100 years back. "Despite the fact that London city grew almost 100 times in these 100 years.
Both the airport and metro are still running. That is the kind of planning and foresight we need. Government should plan keeping in mind the 100 years growth," said Mohapatra. He further pointed out the need for standard operating procedures to be in the league of other countries in terms of facilities at the airports. "We need to have standard operating procedures to run our airports. Europe, South East Asian countries and America are having a lead because of the system in place. We need to learn from them," opined Mohapatra, who once served as the municipal commissioner here. Giving some figures about the growth of country's aviation market, he said India is the seventh largest market in the world. "Indian aviation market's growth rate is 20 per cent, that is highest among any other sector in the country. By 2020, we will become third largest market after US and China," he said while stressing on planned infrastructure to counter the challenges related to such huge growth in the future.