The Maharashtra government has sought approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to start flight operations from the under-construction airport at the pilgrimage town of Shirdi, a senior government official said.
"Air connectivity to Shirdi will promote tourism and boost industrial development in Ahmednagar district," Prem Singh Meena, Additional Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra General Administration Department, told PTI.
"DGCA officials, during their last visit to the airport site, had raised objections on a part of the airport boundary wall which was incomplete, and thus, the aerodrome licence was not given," he said.
"Work on a 2,500-metre airstrip and the disputed boundary wall has been completed, besides other pending works," he said.
"We have again applied to DGCA for aerodrome licence. We expect to get it within three months so that we can start (operation of) non-scheduled flights.
"Within the next one year, a proper Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower would be built so that scheduled flight services can begin from the airport," he said.
"The airport is being built by Maharashtra Airport Development Company Limited (MADC), and the government has set a target to make it operational by 2017 in view of Sai Baba's birth centenary celebrations, scheduled in 2018," he said.
"The entire effort of having an airport at Shirdi is to promote religious tourism, and the government is looking at a huge conglomeration of tourists from across the world. We are trying to meet the next year's deadline," an official from the state Tourism Department said.