Plan to extend Juhu airport into sea
With air traffic congestion reaching a flashpoint in Mumbai, the government has been forced to fast-track its age-old plan of reviving the Juhu airport to ease pressure on the overburdened Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA). The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has appointed consulting major KPMG to draw up a development plan for Juhu airport. The ultimate plan for extending the runway in phases could see the airstrip protruding into the sea by reclaiming parts of the famous Juhu beach and seafront after getting the environmental nod for doing so. Presently, the Juhu runway is about 4,000-feet-long. In the first phase, it will first be extended to 5,500 feet so that it can accommodate ATRs. The eventual development plan is to extend it to 7,500 feet to allow it to be fit for slightly bigger planes. But this will involve reclaiming the sea—hence the need to clear stiff green clearances. “The plan is to reactivate Juhu so that small planes can be shifted here. This will enhance the capacity of CSIA as it will handle big, fast-moving aircraft. The work is proposed to be done in two phases—on the city side and the airport area. KPMG has been asked to make a master plan,’’ AAI chairman V P Agrawal said. The airport operational area development is likely to cost in the range of Rs 250-300 crore. The government is likely to go the PPP way for this work, with GVK-led MIAL already expressing interest in partnering the AAI. The worry for Mumbai is growing as the Navi Mumbai airport is yet to take off.