Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Airport expansion, greenfield to be delayed

Airport expansion, greenfield to be delayed

The ongoing expansion of existing airport and the proposed second airport at Sriperumbudur may get delayed if Airports Authority of India (AAI) is not able to eliminate the bottlenecks the projects face.

The existing airport's development will be hit if defence authorities did not vacate the 19-acre land adjacent to the international terminal immediately while tardiness of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in completing a techno-economic feasibity study is delaying the Sriperumbudur airport.

Confirming the fears, AAI chairman VP Agrawal said that AAI may not be able to complete the project on time if the defence land is not held up. "We are planning to take up the issue with the defence secretary," he said. Though the land was formally handed over to AAI in July, defence authorities are refusing to vacate a transmitter building located in it. AAI has also built a RS 3-crore transmitter station at an alternative site.

"The ongoing expansion works (building two new passenger terminals, a flyover in front of the terminals, extending the secondary runway and building a bridge across Adyar river to extend the runway) are progressing at a rapid pace and could be completed next year. But, delay in getting the defence land will impact the expansion works," said Agrawal after inaugurating a 303-metre walkalator that connects domestic and international terminals at Chennai airport on Friday. The walkalator built at a cost of Rs 12 crore helps passengers to access aero bridges of both the terminals.

Agrawal said that the financial condition of AAI would not impact the ongoing airport expansion works at Kolkata and Chennai. "As tax-free bonds are not coming from the government, we may borrow from the market. This comes at a lower interest rate. So, the projects may not be affected. But, we have deferred long-term borrowing" he said.

The proposed second airport project on 4,820.66 acres at Sriperumbudur also may get delayed considerably because International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is going slow on the techno-economic feasibility study. "AAI has paid an advance amount to the organisation to start the study. But, they have not done much. So, we have written to the secretary general of the organisation." Agrawal said.

The study has already been delayed by almost a year because AAI did not pay the advance to ICAO. The organisation was supposed to submit its report in June this year. However, this is going to be delayed further.

AAI could decide the fate of the proposed parallel runway only after getting ICAO report on Sriperumbudur airport, he said.

AAI has put the parallel runway project on hold till the ICAO report is released.

Agrawal said that installation of a new radar would be carried out by the end of March 2010. "The airport will get two radar. One will soon be installed at Porur. Works on the building are going on," he said.


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