Parallel runway project put on hold
Greenfield Airport More Suitable But We Haven’t Shelved Project: AAI
V Ayyappan TNN
Chennai: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has decided to put on hold the construction of the parallel runway project at Anna International Airport in Chennai as the state government has once again expressed keenness in establishing another airport at Sriperumbudur.
“We are putting the parallel runway project on hold because the (proposal for a) second airport at Sriperumbudur looks more apt and the state government has also agreed to give land for it. But we are not shelving the project,” AAI chairman V P Agrawal said after a meeting with Tamil Nadu chief secretary K S Sripathy here on Friday.
The construction of a second airport at Sriperumbudur would negate the requirement for a second runway at the Chennai airport, which currently faces an instructural crunch given the increase in frequency of flights.
A final decision on whether to build a parallel runway for the existing airport would be taken only after “we get to know the final report of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on the feasibility of the second airport,” Agrawal added. ICAO has not yet started a survey of the location at Sriperumbudur because the AAI has not paid Rs 5 crore for the study.
The ICAO is the international body tasked with the role of studying flight paths in order to verify the feasibility of the location. The AAI chief said a clear picture would emerge after some months based on the ICAO’s study. “We were looking for state government support. Now, they have told us to fund the study.
So, an agreement for the eight-month study will be signed very soon. We will get a preliminary report four months after the study is commissioned. Therefore, the construction of the parallel runway will depend on the ICAO study and also on the final decision of the state government to acquire land,” he added.
According to Agrawal, steps were being taken to improve facilities at Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruchi and Tuticorin airports and also improve air traffic management facilities at Chennai airport. “Air Traffic Control automation will be done in seven to eight months so that it will improve safety and ease work for the traffic controllers. Raytheon USA has emerged the lowest bidder in the tender process for the project.
We will be having a modern Auto Track III system which is there only in Delhi. The Chennai airport will also get two new radars and six bidders have qualified in the tender process. Price bid for that will be opened in 15 days. Once an agency is finalised the radars are expected in eight months,” he said.
On the national level, the AAI has signed an agreement with Federal Aviation Administration to prepare tender documents to facilitate better air traffic flow management so that Indian air space is better utilised. “Currently, we share the air space with defence who hold control over 35 % of Indian air space,” he added.