Patna: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) will finalise the agency that will execute expansion plans of the terminal building of Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport before March next year, while two additional bays will be constructed to provide additional parking space for aircraft.
"We are trying to fix the agency for terminal expansion work at Patna airport before March next year. The lowest bidder will be finalised for it," AAI regional executive director (eastern region), K.L. Sharma said. Sharma, who is based in Calcutta, was in Patna on Saturday after the space crunch crisis that virtually burst the Patna airport at its seams on Friday after 14 flights were diverted while another one was cancelled because of fog. He pointed out that the airport was accommodating fliers much beyond the capacity of its terminal building, hence the design of a new building based on the ancient Nalanda University has been finalised.
"We are also undertaking infrastructure development at the Patna airport. Two more apron bays will be developed by September-October next year. It will increase the number from four existing bays to six. The Bihar government is handing over its hangar at the airport for this purpose," Sharma said.
Apron bay is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, embarked, refuelled and unloaded.
The airport is already going to establish temporary enclosures that will serve as waiting area for passengers reaching the airport more than two hours before the scheduled departure of their flights. Meanwhile, the plans to rope-in the Bihta airport, which is under the air force, for civil operations is also going ahead.
"Land has been acquired and boundary wall is to be constructed there for the purpose," Sharma said about the airport, which is located around 35km west of Patna.
Sharma was talking about 108 acres the state government had committed to help develop the civil enclave at Bihta at a cost of Rs 260 crore.
The civil aviation ministry is seeking an additional 156 acres of land from the state government to install advanced category-II Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Bihta airport so that flights could land there at a visibility as low as 350m.
The Patna airport needs a minimum visibility of 1,200m in the absence of such a system. However, the AAI is planning to start 24-hour operations from here from March-end.