Patna airport no. 1 in country

Patna: Biharis’ craze for air travel has seen an unprecedented upswing. Once again, city’s Jayaprakash Narayan International airport has topped in terms of maximum air passenger percentage growth among all airports in India this year.

Handling 51.8 % more flyers in the year 2010-2011 than what it had handled last year, JPNI airport has left behind the international airports at Delhi , Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata which handled 14.6%, 13.3%, 14.4% and 19.7% more flyers than last year respectively. All other 46 airports across the country were also left far behind.

According to official figures, Patna airport handled 8,38,509 passengers in 2010-11. It had handled a total of 5,52,440 passengers in the year 2009-10. The airport had registered a growth of 42.2 per cent in terms of passengers’ flow in 2009-10, which was also highest in the country.

JPNI airport which was at 25th among all 46 airports in India in terms of total passenger flow during 2009-2010, has gone up three notches this year. While in the year 2008-09, JPNI airport was on 34th position it arrowed up to 22nd rank this year, leaving behind posh airports like Amritsar, Trichy and Vishakhapatnam.

During its super-show last year, Patna airport had moved ahead of Bagdogra, Jammu, Raipur, Varanasi, Agartala, Chandigarh, Madurai, Vadodara and Port Blair airports in terms of passenger flow leaving them way behind.

Its excellent show is indeed surprising in the sense that JPNI airport was declared as the most critical airports by the director general of civil aviation in 2010.

Pilots consider landing strips at Patna airport as nightmarish as the runway here is shorter than normal, with no room for error or emergency. DGCA had expressed fears in its reports after Mangalore air crash that a skidding of plane could mean the plane breaching the boundary wall and ramming a train as a railway line is just beyond the 6,000ft runway.

The aircraft movement has also consistently grown over the past years. While, the number of both domestic and international aircraft movement stood at 5,230 in 2008-09, it went up to 7,464 in 2009-10 and next year to 9,547.

On this growth front too, Patna airport has left Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and other airports way behind. Bihar has second position on this front following Chandigarh with 36.5% growth.

“This remarkable growth has been achieved in the face of severe constraints. Patna airport will attract even more flyers if the state government gives a serious consideration to airport’s expansion and removes the existing obstacles from the approach path,” said JPNI director Arvind Dubey adding unfortunately, the government never shows equivalent eagerness.

“We will install necessary infrastructure, pursuant to the provision of necessary land by the government, to sustain this extraordinary show,” Dubey added.

Source: ToI, Patna (Ashok Mishra)

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