Ranchi airport will throw open six additional parking bays from next month enabling passengers to board or alight from 11 aircraft at a time, the expansion mirroring a surge in air travel that the state capital has seen in the last four years.
“We received an approval from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) this month for operating six additional parking bays at Birsa Munda Airport. We will start using these within a week in September,” Ranchi airport director Vinod Kumar Sharma told The Telegraph on Thursday.
Currently, the airport also uses two aerobridges that allow passengers to board aircraft directly from the terminal waiting area. These were introduced in 2013 when the new international terminal building was opened.
Sharma said two more aerobridges were being planned, but these would take another six months to come up.
“The work to install two more aerobridges was delayed due to technical reasons. We are in the final phase of awarding tenders for construction of aerobridges. Construction would be completed in the next six months. We hope to make these operational in 2020,” he said.
Sharma said marking and installation of lights for the additional parking bays, or apron area, had been completed in February-March. Subsequently, DGCA officials conducted an inspection. Its approval reached Ranchi earlier this month.
As of now, the apron area of Ranchi airport can accommodate three Airbus (A-320) and two 19-seater ATR planes. The new apron facility can accommodate five Airbus and one ATR plane at one time.
This means, as many as eight Airbus and three ATR planes can be parked at one time at the airport.
As per data shared by the transport department, while there were only 11 flights carrying 6 lakh passengers annually in 2014, 2018 saw 30 flights operating out of Ranchi.
The number of passengers is estimated to touch 22 lakh during 2018-19.
“With the airport witnessing increasing passenger footfall it was necessary to provide facilities for accommodating more planes. Once the new apron area functions, we expect more planes to serve Ranchi which, in turn, would lead to greater passenger flow. The new apron would make it possible for nearly 80 flights to operate from the airport in a day,” said a senior official in the Ranchi Airport.
Ranchi airport, spread over 1,568 acre, handled 6 lakh passengers in 2014-15. But the number increased to 10 lakh in 2015-16, 13 lakh in 2016-17 and 16 lakh in 2017-18.