After eight years of uncertainty, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is on the verge of finalising the technical blueprint for the Purandar International Airport in Pune district. The Central Government has entrusted the IAF with the crucial task of resolving the persistent issues faced by the people of Pune at Lohegaon Airport and devising a comprehensive technical plan to prevent their recurrence. This decision is a response to the limited expansion possibilities at Lohegaon, Pune's only airport, which also serves as a military airbase.
The proposed plan, estimated to cost around Rs 5,000 crores, is designed to meet Pune's growing aviation requirements for the next twenty-five to thirty years. To accommodate this expansion, the Air Force has recommended the incorporation of four to six access roads and a minimum of four runways leading to the airport.
Due to constraints associated with its military status, Lohegaon Airport has faced challenges in expanding. As a result, the district administration has suggested Purandar as the location for the new international airport. Despite financial obstacles, the project has received support from State Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and Ajit Pawar, signalling optimism for its progress.
Plan seeks to address the critical issue of accessibility
Officials emphasise that the design of the new airport will draw from the experiences and lessons learned from managing the challenges at Lohegaon. With the growing air traffic in Pune, the plan seeks to address the critical issue of accessibility by proposing multiple roads leading to Purandar.
An official stated, "Once the international airport is established in Purandar, air traffic is projected to increase at least tenfold compared to the current situation. The Air Force, having gained valuable experience from daily operations at Lohegaon, is well-equipped to meticulously craft this technical plan to ensure the seamless flow of air traffic."
Concerns have been raised regarding the distance between Pune and Purandar, which is approximately 40 to 45 km, potentially resulting in a two-hour commute. However, the proposed 2,832 hectares of land for the Purandar airport are intended to accommodate Pune's expected growth over the next decade.
Additionally, the technical plan will address potential challenges related to bird activity around the airport.