While the issue of a new airport for Pune is still pending, the existing airport of Indian Air Force is set to be modernized. The first phase is expected to start in 2-3 months. While this is expected to cause disruption to some existing flights, new international flights are expected after the completion of the project. The Mahratta Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture (MCCIA) hopes that this will give impetus to already burgeoning air traffic from the region.
S K Jain, President of MCCCIA, Air Marshal (Retd.) B N Gokhale, Chairman of Civil Aviation Committee of MCCIA gave this information in a press conference on Wednesday.
Gokhale said, “The Modernization of Airfield Infrastructure (MAFI) project is likely to start at Pune Airport withing the next 2 to 3 months. Adequate notice will be given to the airlines to plan their schedule. The schedule will be disturbed for only 2 months as this project will be implemented in phases. The first phase will involve most of the work on the periphery of the runway. The timing of Frankfurt flight, operated by Lufthansa, will have to be altered. During this period, runway lighting and related works will be carried out on the runway.” Gokhale said that a first survey team is expected to come within next 10-12 days.
After the completion of this project, it will be possible to increase the number of flights. The MCCIA wants to add more international especially to east Asian countries. Many new flights to these countries, especially Singapore, are proposed. The MCCIA has estimated that about 150,000 passengers going to East Asia from this region go to Mumbai first as there are no direct flights from Pune.
The demand for modernization and expansion of the existing airport at Lohegaon, which is controlled by IAF, is pending since long. As Sukhoi-30 planes are deployed on the Lohegaon airport, it has put restrictions on the movement of civil flights.However, there was not much progress on that front. MCCIA officials say that it was Prime Minister’s instruction which propelled the administration to move fast.