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Expansion of tabletop runway at Calicut Airport a tough task

Project involves acquisition of 18.5 acres and filling of valley on both sides of runway

Project involves acquisition of 18.5 acres and filling of valley on both sides of runway

The State government has a daunting task to implement the proposal of the Ministry of Civil Aviation to acquire 18.5 acres and subsequently fill the steep valley on both sides of the tabletop runway at the Calicut Airport this fiscal for resuming the operation of wide-bodied aircraft.

Sources said environmental impact assessment and social impact assessment would have to be done prior to acquisition of land. Besides, a large quantity of sand will be required to fill the terrain. The airport has a topography of 343 feet in elevation.

The initiative will involve huge public expenditure. Only then the expansion work on the Runway End Safety Area ( RESA) could be started, they added. Till then, the airport will not have permission to operate wide-bodied aircraft, which was suspended after an Air India Express Boeing-737 flight repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai overshot the runway in heavy rain and crashed on August 7, 2020.

The delay will have long-term consequences on the airport by way of losing a huge chunk of revenue in terms of passenger traffic and freight services. Several organisations have demanded that the resumption of wide-bodied aircraft and work on RESA go in tandem.

The proposal is to acquire 11 acres on the western side of the runway (Runway 10) and 7.5 acres on the eastern side (Runway28). A portion of land that is in the possession of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will also be used for the project.

The acquired land will be utilised to expand the existing 90-metre RESA to 240 metres on both sides of the runway. Additionally, 20 metres will be required for shifting the instrument landing system localiser antenna which was installed in RESA.

Thus the full length of the 2,860-metre runway will be used for landing. The existing landing distance is 2,700 metres. Four years ago, this was shortened to increase RESA.

Meanwhile, AAI Chairman Sanjeev Kumar held an online meeting with officials of the Calicut Airport on Wednesday. He told them to work out the modalities at the micro-level with immediate effect for executing the project.

Minister for Sports, Waqf and Haj Pilgrimage V. Abdurahiman had held two rounds of discussions with revenue and airport officials on acquisition of land for the airport expansion project. He will be holding another meeting on April 11, the sources said.

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