Passenger traffic at Pune airport takes a big leap

In spite of a six-hour restriction on commercial flying a day, statistics furnished by Pune Airport authorities show a phenomenal increase in passenger traffic and airport handling from 2004-05, the number of passenger taking an almost 47-fold leap and aircraft handling increasing 3.36 times. As per data furnished by the airport authorities, in 2004-05, Pune Airport handled about 165 passengers a day, which works out to around 60,000 a year. It increased to 250 passengers a day in 2005-06. This was followed by a sharp rise in 2006-07 when passengers reached 4,309 a day making it over 15,00,000 a year.

"Today, the airport handles as many as 28 lakh passengers a year, which works out to about 8,000 passengers a day. The case is no different with aircraft handling as we handle 25,322 flight movements per year from the earlier 7,745 a year in 2004-05. The growth has been phenomenal," said P S R K Sudhakar airport director..

From having operated only the national carrier about a decade ago, today, all the six domestic airlines operate out of Pune, connecting the city to eight destinations across the country. Besides, flights to Frankfurt and Dubai are operated by Lufthansa and Air India Express respectively. "The demand for Delhi is the highest, followed by Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai," said Sudhakar.

One interpretation of growth in numbers is the transition the city has witnessed in terms of IT, infrastructure, education and population. The growth has also given many a reason to press for the new international airport. "Pune is probably the only non-capital city handling such huge numbers. And it is the non-capital status that has hampered the expansion/ construction of the new airport. Given the volumes handled, it is high time we had 24-hour connectivity across the globe. Ideally, reciprocating the demand, the airport needs to operate at least 200 flights, 100 landings and 100 take-offs, a day against 40 landings and 40 take-offs now," said S K Jain, chairman, Civil Aviation Committee,MCCIA.

The MCCIA, besides other groups in the city including those from various states, has been pressing for connectivity to additional destinations in the country and abroad. "For instance, a group from Kerala has been saying that there are no flights to their state. We have also proposed direct flights to Cochin and Kolkata and the issue is likely to be taken up before the summer schedule," an airport official said. "On the international front, there is a demand for direct flights to places like Australia, Indonesia, China and Hong Kong. While the airlines are ready, they need a slot to operate, which the airport is not capable of providing," said Jain.

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