Airport authority team to study new Pune international airport project in Rajgurunagar

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Pune : Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said a team from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) will visit Rajgurunagar for preliminary study in first week of September.

The New Pune International Airport is a greenfield airport project under development near Rajgurunagar, 40 kilometers north of Pune, Maharashtra, India. The Government of Maharashtra has entrusted the responsibility to the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) for executing this ₹10 billion (US$150 million) project.

The new airport is expected to serve the Pune Metropolitan Area and will be the gateway of Pune and western Maharashtra to the rest of the world. Agricultural and floricultural exports are expected to get a faster movement to international markets upon the completion of this project. The construction of this airport was expected to begin by 2015, however, the government has not been able to finalise on a location for the project.

Pune is a growing center in the automobile, manufacturing, education and Information technology industries. The current airport, a civil enclave operated by the AAI at the Lohegaon Air Base of the Indian Air Force, has only 8 parking bays and is not in a position to serve international traffic of more than 3 to 4 flights per day. On the other hand, there is a growing demand for air traffic into Pune from the automobile, manufacturing and information technology industries. Many foreign students from more than 70 countries and students from other towns and cities in India come to Pune for education. There is also a growing demand for agricultural and floricultural trade. The old airport cannot handle cargo aircraft as there is no dedicated cargo terminal and no land is available to build a cargo terminal. Moreover, this airport remains closed to civilian air traffic for a few hours every day when the Airforce conducts military operations.

The decision to build the airport was taken in August 2004. Potential project sites had earlier included areas around Talegaon Dabhade and Saswad near Pune. Another area between Chakan and Rajgurunagar, around the villages of Chandus and Shiroli situated along the Pune – Nashik National Highway 50 was also considered.

In 2011, due to land acquisition issues at the Rajgurunagar site, a new site further west, around the villages of Askhed Budrukh, Koye, Kurunde and Piet, was chosen. In August 2012, the state government allocated ₹2 billion (US$30 million) to acquire 1,800 hectares of land for the airport, 1,200 hectares of which, were intended for the construction of the airport featuring two 4-kilometer long, 60-meter wide parallel runways, while the remaining 600 hectares were to be used to develop airport amenities, for commercial development and for the implementation of the buyback policy offered to project-affected residents of the area. This site received clearance from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in February 2013 and MADC subsequently issued a request for proposal (RFP) for consultants to conduct techno-economic feasibility studies, assist in obtaining the required statutory approvals and provide project management services. The airport was initially expected to start by 2011 but was delayed due to slow land acquisition including a parcel of land set aside for the Khed City project.

In April 2015, the State Government announced that it would consider building a scaled-down version of the airport on 1200 hectares at the original site near Rajgurunagar. The new plan would avoid acquisition of agricultural land from local farmers.