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‘Jaipur airport being developed as aviation hub’

DNJAI28159 | 11/7/2011 | Author : Team DNA | WC :794

Sunday @ DNA

One of the 11 international airports in the country, the Jaipur International Airport, was rendered its status on December 29, 2005.
A few months ago, this airport in Sanganer (13 km from the city), was adjudged the best airport among tier-II cities in India and the 14th in the world for its Airport Service Quality (ASQ) in a survey carried out by Airport Council International (ACI).
Airport director RK Singh, in a free-wheeling chat with DNA on Sunday, shared the present status and plans for Jaipur Airport, particularly in developing it as a feeding/regional aviation hub between New Delhi and Mumbai.
Q: What’s the present state of traffic at Jaipur International Airport?
Presently, 30-odd domestic and international flights connect with the Jaipur Airport. All major domestic airliners operate from Jaipur. The airport reports movement of 1.50 lakh passengers per month, out of which about 25,000 are international passengers and the remaining are domestic.
Q: With domestic passengers forming a bulk of air traffic at Jaipur, what are the plans to expand domestic air travel?
All major airliners are already connecting Jaipur with major Indian cities. But recently Jaipur was connected directly with other smaller but significant destinations, like Indore, Chandigarh, Raipur and Goa. Two new flights have been started between Jaipur and Delhi, increasing the number of daily flights between the two destinations to nine.
Come January, IndiGo will start a direct daily flight from Jaipur to Bangalore, and another flight to Hyderabad is slated to begin from December this year.
Q: Sanganer Airport is an international airport, but is connected only with three Middle East destinations. What are your international expansion plans?
Presently, Air Arabia connects Jaipur with Sharjah, Air India Express connects us with Dubai, while Oman Air operates flight from Muscat. We’re working with the Middle East airliners to increase frequency of flights and are hopeful of another Jaipur-Dubai flight by March 2012. Also, on the priority list is connecting Jaipur with South-East Asia. In January 2012, we hope to start a direct flight from Jaipur to Singapore.
Q: What about strengthening cargo base/traffic?
We’ll also be drawing plans for expanding the cargo base, which is not our strongest area of operations. For building a strong cargo base at the Airport, we’ve embarked on a Cargo Feasibility Study, which will be ready in 45 days.
Q: The long-awaited runway extension work was slated to begin in October, which has been postponed now. What’s the latest development in this issue?
The critical work of runway extension and strengthening is likely to begin by March 2012 and will take 18 months to complete. Extension of runway to 12,000 ft will boost Jaipur Airport’s chances of catering to bigger aircraft, ushering enough scope for starting newer international flights from Jaipur. A sum of `75 crore has been earmarked for runway extension.
Q: There is immense scope for air taxi services in Rajasthan, what are your plans on this front?
Air taxi is the in thing. Three companies are interested in running air taxi tours from Jaipur, via small helicopters and light wing aircraft, having variable seating capacity between 5 to 14 passengers. Sixteen parking lots have already been slotted for them. If everything goes as planned, Air Taxi services will start in the New Year. A committed and parallel Taxi Track too is in pipeline that is likely to cost between `25-27 crore.
Q: Keeping in mind the expansion plans, don’t you think the present terminal building is inadequate?
A new terminal building is being proposed as part of the phase II expansion plans of the Airport, which will render additional space of 33,000 sq m on either sides of the Terminal II building. The proposal is being submitted to the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Hopefully, the project will be cleared by March 2012 and the new building will be in place at a cost of `300 crore in two years. We hope to start construction by August-September 2012 and the building will be completed by Aug-Sep 2014, while the runway work will be completed by September 2013.
Q: Any plans to strategically develop Jaipur airport as a hub of regional aviation?
Be it runway extension, the new building or taxi track, these infrastructural initiatives are planned to make Jaipur International Airport complimentary to Delhi Airport and develop it as feeder/regional aviation hub between Mumbai and Delhi. Airliners like Spicejet, Jet Airways, Indigo embarking on major craft acquisition plans (acquiring an aircraft each every month). We want to make most out of their increasing fleet by starting more regional flights from Jaipur.
Q: Are there any regional flights in the offing from Jaipur?
Religare is planning regional services connecting Jaipur with Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Kota, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mount Abu. Their representatives have recently met govt officials in this matter.

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