Runway success: The almost finished Rs 138-crore integrated airport terminal in Ranchi cleared its first trial run with flying colours. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Birsa Munda Airport’s long-in-the-making integrated terminal had its first trial run on Friday when 80 passengers of a Jet Airways Mumbai-Calcutta hopping flight used the domestic arrival lounge and gushed about everything from the ergonomics of the design to the elegance of the décor.
Unfortunately, however, Mahi’s boys in blue, Alastair Cook & Co. and other VVIP guests — who will reach Ranchi a day before the India-England ODI — will not enjoy the same privilege.
Airport director Raju Raghvendra Kumar has confirmed that it will not be possible to inaugurate the Rs 138-crore facility before the January 19 match. “Today’s trial was successful. Also, all major work at the new terminal is nearly complete. But, organising an inauguration takes time,” he insisted.
Sharp at 11.40am on Friday, Jet Airways flight 9W 615 landed at parking bay one and surprised passengers were led to the new terminal, where they were greeted with roses and sweets.
“I was very impressed with the grandeur of the integrated terminal. It is so spacious and clean. The facilities are on a par with airports in Delhi and other big cities,” said Manoj Kumar, who had boarded from Calcutta.
Airline officials too could not hide their joy. “Like passengers, many of us looked too around in wonder,” said a Jet Airways ground staff.
The nearly 20,000sqm integrated terminal is centrally air-conditioned and boasts advanced fire protection, besides natural lighting, advanced online baggage inspection, 14 check-in counters for 500 domestic and 200 international passengers, a restaurant, eating joints and a parking lot for 600 cars. There is also an extended apron area for parking five aircraft at a time and ATM kiosks to offer passengers cash convenience.
Construction of sprawling complex had begun in early 2009 and over these four years, the deadline has been missed five times, land hurdle being the main reason behind tardy progress of work.
The first deadline was December 2009, the second June 2010, the third February 2011 and the fourth June 2012.
In December last year, when Airports Authority of India (AAI) chief V.P. Agarwal came to review the project, authorities in Ranchi had said they would try their best to inaugurate the integrated terminal before the ODI at JSCA International Stadium Complex in Dhurwa.
“But, finishing touches remain. Besides, organising an inauguration necessitates prior requests to VIPs. So, the function is not possible at such short notice,” explained an airport official.
The defence ministry had issued a no-objection certificate to AAI in December for construction of an approach road to the new complex. Work on the kilometre-long and 30-metre-wide approach is also “nearly complete, but final touches are being given”.
“The date for opening the integrated terminal to all flights is yet to be fixed. In no case, can it be done before the ODI,” reiterated GVG Raju, general manager (project) at Birsa Munda Airport.
Do you think the new terminal will be opened anytime soon?