New aerobridges for flyers

Growing Passenger Volume Warrants 3 More Boarding Tunnels
The Lohegaon airport will soon have three more boarding bridges for the flyers to reach aircraft.A meeting of the Pune Airport Advisory Committee on Thursday decided to have the facility in view of the growing volume of passengers at the airport.

A boarding bridge, also called an aerobridge or a jet bridge, is an enclosed connector which can be moved and is often connected from an airport terminal gate to an aircraft. It allows a passenger to board or disembark the aircraft without walking to the aircraft.

Member of Parliament Anil Shirole, who is chairman of the committee, said three aerobridges will be bought at a cost of Rs 18.31crore and will be functional within a year.

“At present, there are a total of eight bays or bridges at Pune airport, but only two are available for passenger boarding purpose. The airport has been witnessing an increasing number of passengers and hence the upgrade is important. The new bridges will facilitate the passengers when they are boarding aircraft and also decrease the pressure on the existing bridges. The airport will get them within a year,“ Shirole said.

Last year, the Pune airport catered to 55 lakh flyers. So far this year, the airport has catered to around 65 lakh passengers.

Airport director Ajay Kumar said two bridges were functional at present. “For enhanced facilities for passengers at the airport, some new plans are on the anvil and will be announced soon. They include the construction of new washrooms among other facilities,“ the director added.

Lohegaon airport has exceeded its capacity to handle the volume of passenger traffic which has grown over the last 10 years.The passenger handling capacity of the airport has gone up from nearly 20 lakh in 2009-10 to 55 lakh in 2015-16. Less space for various activities remains a hurdle leading to chaotic situations during peaktime operation of passenger flights. The passenger traffic is expected to go up to 80 lakh or more in the next few years.

The airport is part of the Indian Air Force’s strategically vital base for two squadrons of its frontline multi-role combat aircraft Sukhoi 30 Mk-I. The runway and air traffic control are controlled by the Air Force Station while the civil enclave is managed by Airports Authority of India. Shirole said a final decision on the airport’s chaotic premises was expected soon. “There have been detailed talks. At present, vehicles have to pay Rs 85 if they are parked on the airport’s premises to pick up or drop passengers for more than seven minutes. At this moment, we can say that a decision to reverse this is expected soon and an alternative system will be derived.But it is not possible to give a date till a decision is arrived at.“

Kumar told TOI earlier that an in-principle decision to abolish the system had been taken.

Source : TOI

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