Kozhikode: In what could come as a relief to NRIs in the Malabar region, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has proposed to extend the runway length of the Calicut International Airport from 2,850 m to 3,500 m.
The move comes close on the heels of an earlier plan to reduce the runway length to 2,700 m so as to increase the Runway End Safety Area (RESA). The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wanted the AAI to increase the RESA to 240 m and runway strip to 150 m at the airport.
However, the new proposal would be confined to extending the runway length without disturbing the runway strip at 75 metres on either side, sources told.
For this purpose, the AAI has proposed to the State government to acquire 96 acres of land. Initially, the requirement for expansion was 485 acres. But this was scaled down to 248 acres, including 80 acres for rehabilitating families who will be evicted for the project.
A meeting of officials chaired by Calicut airport Director J.T. Radhakrishna on Thursday, 12th Oct 2017 decided to prepare the safety assessment, and work out an estimate with all stakeholders including airline companies.
Sources said the AAI had already expressed its willingness to spend upto Rs. 1,000 crore for the airport in the wake of the State government taking up the issue with the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
“Now, the ball is in the State government’s court. The government will have to acquire land for the expansion, and identify the hills to be razed for the filling of the valley of the tabletop runway of the airport. At least 10 lakh truckloads of sand will be required for the land-filling,” a senior official said.
The biggest advantage of the expansion of the runway length by 650 m is that airline companies, including Emirates and Saudia which had stopped operations following the ban on wide-bodied aircraft since May 2015, will resume their jumbo flights to the most sought after destinations in the Middle East.
AAI and DGCA officials had given clearance for the operation of Boeing-777 200 aircraft since the aeroplane reference field length for this baseline aircraft is within the available runway length. Discussions are still going on with airline companies on this aspect.