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Hurdles crossed, relief for airport

Patna, Nov. 28: The Damocles’ sword hanging over the fate of Patna airport has been removed, at least for now.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued a fresh letter — after giving four extensions with specific dates — which says that runway restrictions for the Patna facility would not come into effect till further orders. Earlier, the AAI had given permission for using the airport without the runway restrictions till November 30.

“We have received a communication from the headquarters and we are in the process of informing operators about it,” Patna airport director Arvind Dubey told The Telegraph today.

He, however, maintained that the letter also talked about addressing the issues — removal of the obstacles — on a priority basis.

“We have to submit a report in this regard in March next year,” Dubey said.

Earlier, the AAI had issued a notice (called Notam in aviation parlance) on August 3, according to which, the landing distance available on runway 07 (Phulwarisharif end) was re-notified from 1,677m to 1,141m. The landing distance on runway 25 (at the Patna zoo end) was also reduced to 1,289m from 1,820m. The take-off distance of both runways was also downsized.

The revised length of the runways was not long enough for safe operations of bigger aircraft such as Boeing 737 and Airbus A 320, and would have allowed only smaller planes like ATR and Bombardier CRJ to fly.

On August 11, AAI extended the effective date for re-notification of the runway length from August 16 to 31. The AAI subsequently extended the date three times — ro September 19, October 31 and finally November 30.

Sensing the impending trouble, the state government took several steps to remove the obstacles and prompted a rethink on part of the AAI.

Most of the obstacles falling on the property of the Bihar government along the aircraft approach funnel have been removed, said a state official. He, however, accepted that due to some procedural issues, pruning of trees on the premises of the Peer Ali graveyard had not been carried out till now.