Five years after the air crash, Mangaluru airport yet to see expansion

1:30 PM, Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Air CrashMangaluru : Five years after the country’s third biggest air crash, in which 158 people were charred to death, the Mangaluru International Airport, which handles 23 arrivals and departures every day, is yet to see the promised expansion.

While the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has given concurrence for the expansion, which includes increasing runway length, the project has been in limbo due the State government’s failure to acquire the required 280 acres of land.

“The victims do not need any memorial. What is required is the expansion of the airport, which the second biggest in the State. The accident could have been averted had the runway been lengthier,” said P.M. Jayasimha Shetty, who was the secretary of Mangaluru Air Crash Victims’ Families Association. The airport’s expansion would not only enhance safety features but also increase flight handling capacity, he said. Dr. Shetty told The Hindu that he could not understand the rationale behind crores of rupees being spent on airports in Mysuru, Shivamogga or Belagavi, which may not require air connectivity. Mangaluru International Airport Director J.T. Radhakrishna said the AAI has cleared the expansion proposal subject to condition that the government would hand over 280 acres of additional land. There has been delay in land acquisition, he said. The work would take at least five years.

It would enable the airport to handle larger flights as well as increase its capacity. Now it earns about Rs. 68 crore a year, close to break-even. The expenditure on the expansion can be justified in view of anticipated increase in the traffic, he said.

Work on the proposed memorial for the Mangaluru air crash victims, near Kulur bridge, off NH 66, is likely to start on Friday, the fifth anniversary of the accident.

Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim told that the park would come up on about half acre land belonging to the New Mangalore Port Trust, where the 12 unidentified bodies of the crash have been buried. NMPT, along with AAI and Air India, will develop the park and hand it over to Mangaluru City Corporation for maintenance.

Proposals to build the memorial near the airport were resented by many people on the ground that it would have a frightening impact on the passengers.


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