The much-awaited international status for Mangalore airport is likely to be accorded over the next couple of months as a major part of the work on the second runway and a terminal building is nearing completion at Kenjar, about 20 km from Mangalore. The expansion of the airport for Rs 214 crore is expected to be completed shortly.
International operations began at the airport on October 3, 2006, with Air India Express, the low cost carrier of the Air India, introducing a flight to Dubai. Now the airline is operating 25 flights from Mangalore to major destinations in West Asia like Sharjah, Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, Bahrain and Doha. In addition to the national carrier, international airlines like Saudi Airlines and Kuwait Air are waiting for Indian approval to start operations to Mangalore, M R Vasudeva, director, Mangalore airport told Business Standard.
“Mangalore airport is now equipped with necessary infrastructure to operate international flights and we expect the ministry of civil aviation to give the green signal so that the airport can be declared an international airport,” he said.
He said Mangalore airport is the second airport in south India to have two runways. The second runway, built for Rs 55 crore, is 8,000 ft. The terminal building being built for Rs 147 crore is expected to be completed by February. The AAI has acquired 364 acres of additional land to expand the airport.
The expanded airport will have two aerobridges, eight remote parking bays with provision for three more bays. With the commencement of full-fledged international operations, Mangalore airport will be capable of handling nearly 1 mn passengers. Presently, it is handling over 725,000 passengers per annum, a growth of two and a half times in just two years. Between 2003 and 2005, the airport handled over 277,000 passengers. The growth has come mainly from international flights that started in 2006, he said.
“After opening of new terminal building we will convert the existing terminal building into a cargo terminal,” he said.
Vasudeva said, presently, the Airports Authority of India is building air traffic control tower with a height of 25 metres for Rs 10 crore, which will be ready in two years. The work on building a category-8 fire station for Rs 4 crore has also commence and will be operational in six months.
The airport will also have a 300-car parking area, restaurant, canopy and pre-paid taxi counters. Barracks for CISF personnel and other airport staff are being constructed. The state government is in the process of building a new approach road to the airport from Mangalore city at a cost of Rs 8 crore.
With the commencement of the new terminal building, the distance to Mangalore city will come down by 8 kms, he said.