MUMBAI: Regular commercial flights are expected to become operational soon from Sindhudurg Airport, making it the first in the coastal Konkan region to be on the country’s air map, while a memorandum of understanding would be signed for the Ratnagiri Airport, officials said here on Monday.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu — who incidentally hails from the Konkan region — shall inaugurate the newly constructed terminal building and other facilities at the greenfield Chipi Airport on Tuesday, making it the state’s 14th airport.
Flight operations under the UDAN scheme are expected to be launched from here shortly, giving a fillip to tourism and allied economic sectors, initially from Mumbai, Pune and Nashik, following successful trials conducted in September 2018.
“The Konkan region has a long and magnificent coastline blessed with abundant greenery and dazzling beaches, natural beauty with ancient temples, historical forts and other tourist attractions. With the Sindhudurg Airport, connectivity to northern Karnataka, western Maharashtra and Goa would get a boost,” said an official.
Built at a total cost of around Rs 520 crore, the new airport can handle 400 passengers per hour and an annual estimated capacity of over a million passengers. The runway length — 2500×45 metres — is suited for operating A-320 and B-737 types of aircraft.
On Tuesday, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) will be reactivating Ratnagiri Airport for commercial flight operations under the UDAN, as until now it was being used for defence purposes only. While the AAI will provide all support for activation including CNS/ATM services, the MIDC will provide the infrastructure for handling aircraft and passengers, constructing a passenger terminal, apron and taxiway for commencing operations under the regional connectivity scheme.
“We are fully committed to start air operations from Ratnagiri at the earliest. Bids under UDAN 3.1 have already been invited for flights on Ratnagiri-Mumbai sector. Both Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri airports shall boost the tourism and economy of Konkan,” Prabhu said.
Among other things, the state government plans to start a fishing centre and a horticulture cargo hub in Sindhudurg, while the MIDC would acquire submarines for Rs 65 crore to launch adventure tourism here.