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March date for swanky airport

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 7: Flying will get swankier come March 2012, as Biju Patnaik Airport gets a makeover. The new terminal building of the airport is likely to be completed by then.

Thirteen of its 15 trusses (support structures) have already been fitted and another two will be fixed soon.

The new terminal will have all kinds of modern amenities, including three aerobridges, two of which will be ready by the deadline. The third one will be developed later.

Developed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) as part of the upgrade of 35 non-metro airports across the country, the new terminal, with its futuristic design, will have trusses making arches for the main lounge of the terminal building.

The two-storey structure will have security areas, space for airlines and utility areas within the terminal building with cafeteria, outside car parking, access road and modern booking offices.

An important aspect of the new development is a straight access road that was to be built from the new terminal building to Ekamra Square near the corner of Capital Hospital. Part of this road has been built.

But some uncertainly remains over demolishing quarters of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), which are in the way. Sources at AAI, however, said the state government has volunteered to build houses for IMD staff on a war footing.

The quarters occupy 0.5 acres, but the meteorological department wants another 2.3 acres of open area near the proposed site for translocation of the staff quarters.

“We have agreed to allocate 2.3 acres of open land. At a meeting held a fortnight ago, all the stakeholders have decided to speed up the process for development of the new terminal and its infrastructure requirements and we hope things will be sorted out soon,’’ said a senior AAI official.

He added: “In case there is a problem and the straight road gets delayed beyond the deadline, the existing link to the airport can also work as the access road to the new terminal.”

The addition of aero bridges to the new terminal will be an interesting part of the new infrastructure.

The aerobridges are movable, tunnel-like structures that are connected to the aircraft.

Passengers can come to the arrival lounge through the bridges without taking stairs to alight from the aircraft, take the airport bus or any other medium of transport.

“The height of the aerobridges are adjustable electronically and an operator works on a computerised system to provide the service. Aerobridges are there at metro airports, but with the AAI plan to upgrade non-metro airports, the city is going to get the facility soon,’’ said the director of Biju Patnaik Airport, V.N. Chandran.

A source, hopeful that the March deadline would be met by the construction wing of the AAI, said: “The Rs 150 crore-project will have space for all the stakeholders. For example, Air India and the Central Industrial Security Force will be allotted space that will be used according to their requirement, but within the guidelines of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security of India.’’

24-hour landing

The city airport is now prepared to transform itself into a round-the-clock landing facility from December 15 till February 15 to facilitate landing of domestic aircraft from Calcutta airport in case any airplane needs to make an emergency landing because of fog in the winter months.

“Earlier, the city airport was open from 7.30am to 10.30pm through two shifts. Only in case of emergencies did the airport operate beyond 10.30pm.

“Now, the airport will remain open beyond 10.30pm every day for two months after December 15 in case any airplane from the domestic terminal of Calcutta airport needs to make an emergency landing,’’ said the airport director.

In case of international aircraft, the flight plan includes only international airports for an alternative destination and for Calcutta, the alternative international airport is either Chennai or Hyderabad.

As there is no facility for landing of jumbo aircraft in Bhubaneswar, small international aircraft can make emergency landings at the airport during this period.