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Navi Mumbai airport may not be functional before March 2024: CAPA

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The much-delayed Navi Mumbai airport is unlikely to commence operations before March 2024, by which time congestion at the existing airport in the city will become much severe, a report said. Infrastructure major GVK group has bagged the financial bid to build and operate second international airport in the Mumbai metropolitan region at an investment of INR 16,000 crore this year, beating rival GMR group. GVK operates the Mumbai airport while GMR handles the Delhi airport.

However, the official go-ahead is yet to be received by the successful bidder, aviation think-tank Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said in its latest report. The new airport was proposed in 1997 and received the government’s approval in 2007. The project faced delay due to the land acquisition issues securing necessary government permissions, including the environmental clearance.

“With significant earthworks to be performed at the site before construction can commence, it is highly unlikely that the second airport will commence operations until FY2023 at the earliest, by which time congestion at the existing airport will become far more severe,” stated CAPA Global Strategy Report for July-August, 2017.

The Navi Mumbai Airport project will be carried out on a public-private partnership model and the City and Industrial and Development Corporation (CIDCO), which is the project implementation agency, will incur pre-development work costs. These costs will be later recovered from the GVK.

CIDCO had earlier said it expects to commission the first phase by December 2019. Although the PPP concession to develop a second airport at Navi Mumbai was finally awarded in February this year, the official go-ahead is yet to be received by the successful bidder, the Mumbai International Airport MIAL), CAPA said in its report.

The Mumbai airport handled 45.2 million passengers in the previous fiscal and has been facing severe capacity crunch for quite some time now. As per the report, the capacity utilisation at the Mumbai airport, which has a maximum design capacity of 48 million, stood at 94 per cent in the last fiscal and at this rate it should reach saturation by March next year.

The report noted that the impact of congestion can be seen in the recent traffic growth rate at Mumbai, which is by far the lowest amongst the six metros, reflecting the shortage of available slots.

“The economic loss to the city and the region is massive, as a result, causing the loss of thousands of jobs and fundamentally undermining Mumbai’s potential as a major regional aviation hub. These effects are little short of tragic – and completely avoidable,” CAPA said in the report.