It is Celebration Time for Mangalore Airport

Feb 15, 2011

60 and Going Strong....

60 years ago  on  December 21, 1951 with the arrival of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, in Mangalore, the Bajpe Aerodrome,  which has now graduated to become Mangalore International Airport,  was commissioned.  The airport has come a long way since then and is now celebrating its diamond jubilee this year, which is no doubt a moment of great pride for all Mangaloreans.  The airport has been instrumental in facilitating the  economic development of this port city.  The airport which has been operating international flights from 2006 onwards has been awaiting the tag of international airport status, which may take some more time to get materialized. 

The length of the second runway at Mangalore airport is  8038 feet  whereas  the availability of a 9000 feet runway is a pre-requisite to upgrade the status of the airport. After inaugurating the new terminal Praful Patel had announced extension of the runway and after the gruesome air crash tragedy of May last year, it was reassured that the runway would be extended and it would also take into account the required spillover area in case of emergency.   The paper work in this regard is under process.  Another distinctive feature of Mangalore airport is that it is one among the three airports in the country to have table top runways, the other two being Kozhikode and  Lengpui in Aizwal, Mizoram. The table top feature of the airport had come in for severe criticism after the air crash tragedy of last year. 

Major Milestone

60 years is indubitably a major landmark in the chequered history of this airport and Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), which played a prominent   role in the establishment of the airport has chalked out a series of year long programmes to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations, aimed at the development of the district.  The inaugural function of the celebration was supposed to be held on February 4, 2011, to be attended by then Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel.  However, with Vyalar Ravi becoming the new Civil Aviation Minister, it proved to be a non-starter.  KCCI has now invited the new minister Vyalar Ravi and if everything goes well the celebrations will take off on February 27, 2011. Considering the Union budget on 28th February, one has to keep the fingers crossed on whether the minister would make it on that day. But KCCI is bent upon inviting the minister to kick start the celebrations on any convenient day. 

KCCI expects the active  involvement of local industrialists, traders and leaders in  the hospitality  and tourism sectors to give a impetus to developmental activities here.  The KCCI  once again coming forward to play a stellar role certainly augurs well for Mangalore International Airport, which faced lot of flak and criticism following the gruesome air crash in May last year.

Airport Director M R Vasudeva, the man who strived to bring Mangalore Airport to the present status,  speaking to daijiworld said “though Airport Authority of India is not chalking out any programmes to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations,  we would certainly join hands with KCCI and the citizens of Mangalore  by participating in the various programmes  they have planned to mark this event”.

60 years back war hero and retired Wing Commander Vonthibettu Prabhakar Hegde  flew  Jawaharlal Nehru on his first ever flight to Mangalore Airport, then known as Bajpe Aerodrome.  There was no runway when the first aircraft landed at Bajpe as digging and leveling of the hell to build the runway was in progress.  Nevertheless,  Nehru’s landing on DC-3(Dakota) at Bajpe itself is considered as the commissioning of the airport.  Dakota aircrafts are small with a seating capacity of below 40 and till 1983 only smaller aircrafts like Dacota could be landed in Mangalore. 

In 1983 a runway (5330 feet) was set up and this enabled the landing of Boeing 737-sized aircrafts, having a  seating capacity  of about 110 people.  The status quo continued till 2006 when the new runway of 8,039 feet was opened and the Bajpe airport was declared as Customs Airport,  which paved the way for operating  flights to international destinations from the airport. Mangalore became the first airport in Karnataka to have a concrete runway and also to have two runways.  On 3 October 2006, Air India Express flight 802 from Dubai became the first international flight to land at Mangalore Airport.  

Several Hurdles

Though AAI had asked the Karnataka Government in 1989 itself to acquire necessary land for the expansion of the airport,  it was only in 2003 the land was acquired and given to Mangalore Airport authorities.  A compensation of about 22 crores was spent for land acquisition and rehabilitation of the displaced persons.  Only after the land acquisition  was done the work of the new runway and the NITB took off at a lightening speed. 

The concrete runway was completed within a record time of two years and once the runway became operational top priority was given for establishing the new integrated terminal building, at Kenjar, where the NITB is now located. As a result the distance to the airport from Mangalore is reduced by about 6 kms making it convenient for people to travel to the airport. With Mangalore Airport opening its doors to international flights,  the New Integrated Terminal Building (NITB) became a necessity and work was started on accomplishing it on a war footing. The NITB built over 70 acres of land has a capacity to accommodate four A310 class and a  A321 class aircraft at a time with provisions to three more aircrafts to be added if required.  

After facing several hiccups,  the NITB  constructed at a cost of Rs.148 crores, was inaugurated  on May 15, 2010 and  was thrown open for air traffic in July 2010. NITB is built on modular concept where future expansion, if needed is possible.  There are about 35 airports in India built on this concept and Mangalore is one among them.  It became fully operational from August 2010 and the services were completely shifted from the old airport at Bajpe to the NITB. The new terminal provides a comfortable and convenient ambience to both the passengers and visitors and more spare for airlines, their staff and better facilities and space for passengers at the lounge and the lobby.  With the NITB becoming a reality a major hurdle was overcome in upgrading the status of the airport. The opening of the new terminal building was a dream come true for the people of coastal districts and the neighboring state Kerala. 

Increased Passenger Traffic

M R Vasudeva says at present Mangalore International Airport is handling 32 flight movements a day and 42  international flights per week.  The passenger traffic has rose from 2.77 lakh in 2005 to 8.5 lakhs for the year 2010 and going by the current trend it is going to be even more in the coming years.  About 1000 passengers can be handled at a time at the NITB.  The initial shortcomings were overcome and it is now equipped with two aerobridges and has  provision  for adding one more in the future. It is designed to separately handle domestic and international passengers.

But the airport has to quicken the second and third phase of development and also expansion of the runway that  include installation of an arrester system and creating the mandatory buffer zone  at the end of the runway is undertaken in a phased manner.  Extending the runway by 1000 feet is yet to start as it involves acquiring another 50 acres of land and  an expenditure of about Rs. 200 crores, says Vasudeva.  “Extending the runway necessitates filling up the valley which is 45 meter deep.  Filling 1 sq meter of the gorge requires Rs. 200 which is quite a lot of money.  If the enlightened citizens of the costal districts come up with necessary finance the work can be undertaken immediately.  We have instances of local citizens shouldering such responsibility in Cochin, Calicut and Cannannore airports.  KCCI, which is the voice of the people  has come forward  with some proposal and we are ready to extend all possible help”, Vasudeva states.   

Vasudeva says that at the moment Mangalore does not have that kind of air traffic to have Jumbo aircrafts, which might become necessary when SEZ becomes a reality and the city  braces up for new economic growth and industrial  development. 

It is believed that the old terminal at Bajpe will be handed over to the Coast Guard for handling cargo.  The Kanara Chamber has now taken up the mantle  of giving a new impetus to the growth of the coastal districts and in its scheme of things according  international  status to Mangalore airport is on top of the agenda.  Chamber President G G Mohandas Prabhu had said that there is scope for handling cargoes such as vegetables, fruits, processed food and other items from Mangalore and the space at the old airport is convenient for this purpose.   KCCI is directing its efforts in maximizing the connectivity advantage enjoyed by Mangalore to boost developmental activity in this area. 

KCCI’s Four Demands

KCCI President Mohandas Prabhu says that the chamber will place four demands when the Civil Aviation Minister is going to come for the inauguration of the diamond jubilee celebrations.  “Our demands include  extension of  the runway by 3000 feet, the tag of international status to Mangalore airport,  the airport to be named after Ullal Srinivasa Mallya and also the setting up of the Air Cargo Complex.  We have also planned many event spread over the year to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations of the airport.  We have chalked out a series of programmes aimed at  improving the  infrastructure facilities  keeping in mind the all round development of the coastal districts”, Mohandas Prabhu asserts.  

Mangalore international airport is certainly raring to go if the Civil Aviation Ministry accedes to these demands of KCCI, which are .  But considering the financial stakes involved and with AAI having precedence of local partnership in the development of the airports, it should not be a difficult task to comply with these demands. 

In the meantime the work of the second and 3rd phase at the NITB needs to be undertaken with full gusto.  While the airport in toto looks swanky and in tune with the international status, some attention needs to be given for keeping the surrounding area clean. The area behind the airport canteen is littered with all sorts of plastic and other waste which presents a very bad picture of the place.  Let us hop the concerned authorities take due note of this.  

With the bad memories of the worst plan tragedy behind it, the airport needs to give priority for safety measures.  It is believed that Mangalore would come under the centralized radar operation system would be effected within 8 to 10 months.   Even Bangalore international airport does not have Area Control services, which Mangalore has because  of Mangalore’s geographical strategic location. Among the 11 centres in India Mangalore airport is one which provides area control service to the aircrafts overflying Mangalore Airport (DVOR). 

The Mangalore Airport has provided enough stimulus to the growth of this region.  Let us hope the Airport in its new avatar is going to strive for greater role in the economic growth of this area in the future too.

by Florine Roche
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Comment on this article

  • Vinod Jain, Mangalore

    Thu, Feb 17 2011

    Corruption at Airport.

    Those who go to the Airport to passengers, hardly spend 5-6 minutes are charged looted with 65 rupees.

    There is no reason or justice given to private citizens who go to the airport just to their near and dear ones. Time keeping need to be electronic ?

  • Melwin D,souza, M'lor/Kuwait

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    It is great to hear that so many good thinkgs are going to hoppen this year. Congrats and your done good work Mr M.R Vasudeva Batt. I meet last week in Manglore Lobo Prabu Court Capt C.L Pais (lawer)

  • anil, mangalore/uk

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    Every thing is fine but still we struggling for basic facilities inside the airport like local telephone etc and behaviour of the staff towards passengers including security person,s very bad and rude i have had an bad experience last year

  • suman, mangalore

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    I think Mangalore International Airport is more a lovely Name . Ullal Srinivas Mallya is Great person, no doubt , It can be dedicated to him, but Mangalore International Airport sounds better. We can keep a Bust of Mr. Mallya at the entarnce listing this achievements though.


  • Mushtaq ZamZam , Bhatkal Dammam

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    Happiest News for only UAE, Oman,& Bahraini Traveler, not for Saudi Arabia Passengers, why because of No Direct Flight for US , we r requesting since from Last 3 years , but no one can take seriousness about our request, at least once in a week they can arrange one flight from Saudi to Mangalore.


    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    Somebody rightly raised the point of the access road to the new terminal.I have been using the old airport for 22yrs with out any hastle.I have never seen any approach road of this kind to any airport.Very dangerours & u cant mobilise any heavy equipment in case of any mishape.The authorities ingnored the safety here.

  • Jawar D'Souza, M'Lore/Doha

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    Instead of filling the gorge why cant we put some pillars from down up to the height of the runway and concrete it the space down can be utilised for something else.

  • avani, mangalore/uae

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    "If the enlightened citizens of the costal districts come up with necessary finance the work can be undertaken immediately. We have instances of local citizens shouldering such responsibility in Cochin, Calicut and Cannannore airports". Surprisingly everyone is giving free advice and no one commented on this part of what Mr. Vasudev spoke. Mr. Vasudev I am ready to contribute my part whatever little possible and I am sure many will. (Hani koodi halla). Filling the valleys and constructing runways should not be a problem as technology has advanced so much to tackle these. Start initiation for fund raising and see the response. But please dont do it by adding fees or some other ways by imposing something. If it is voluntary contribution it will come more appreciatingly and whole heartedly.

  • TSPA, oman

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    All demands are fine ..but why change of name? .some would want it to be Tulunadu Airport..maybe somedoby else wants it to be somthing else ..with due respect to Mr US Mallya.

  • ruchir agarwal, mangalore

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    The direct flight to New Delhi must be3 started again.Also a direct flight at least twice a week to hyderabad.

  • Ranjith shetty, udupi

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    Regarding the development,the Brand New Terminal Building was totally in bad shape and looks no standard at all for the money spent behind this project. look at the entrey level to the air port... any where in the world i never seen such entries...this could have been build very hi tech way using current tech . vasudaven should have visited some other place before finalizing new terminal project. it is not at all constructed logistically correct.
    compare to the new terminal i still prefer old one..old one had proper entry level along with vasthu..... same one could have extended.... after all whose money? its our money spent

  • Ronald D, Udupi

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    All is fine!! Why change the name? What benefit it will fetch?? People need to come out of syndrome of name change!!

  • jayant, riyadh/suratkal

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    Mangalore Airport is the best name and we must support it and if they insist I recommend my grand father's name for it. As long as there is no direct flight from Riyadh to Mangalore we are not happy and satisfied with the development.

  • Anand Dsilva, Dubai

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    Lance, I do not think the security did anything wrong by asking you to open the bag that contained crystal glasses. I feel a glasss can be broken and used as a weapon. By the way, what did you have to talk to the manager? You thought you are in a hotel?

  • Arjun, India

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    Agree.. We want educated manglorean as security guards..nothing against the out of state guards..but local airport needs local charm and culture.. Also some of  these staff don't know to respect elderly women including respect for veiled women.

  • Chris Misquith, Brampton/ Toronto- Canada

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    Good Job Opportunities for the younger generation...
    Well done, to all the responsible individuals.

  • Lance, Mangalore/Sharjah

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    I'm glad Mr. Vasudeva is back as the Airport Director of our Airport. I visited Mangalore in August 2010 and was quite impressed with the infrastructure and services. However, I was dissappointed with the security services. The security people are all from North India and treat us locals as outcasts. I was travelling to Bangalore with my family and was carrying a set of crystal glasses gift wrapped, to be presented as a birthday gift for our friend in Bangalore.

    The security guys who were at the Xray machine asked me to open the gift wrapping as they suspected something. I told them that they are crystal glasses and there was nothing else hidden. But they insisted that I opened the package. I asked them to allow me to speak to their Manager but nobody was listening to me. Finally I had to open the box and show them the glasses. There was no apology and they did not even volunteer to re-pack it.

    Why are they employing such inefficient people who cannot distinguish between a crystal glass and a weapon? If the security guy was efficient, why have they installed such x-ray machines which cannot distinguish between a glass and a weapon or bomb?

    I hope Mr. Vasudev will take this up with the central authorities and have our own security guys there who are well trained and speak our language. Also, he should make sure that the best security equipment is installed at the airport so that innocent people are not harassed in the pretext of security concerns.

  • stany passana, Mangalore

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    Dear Florine,Dakota was stopped much earlier than 1983. That was Avro which was in use till 1983.

    Regarding the development,the Brand New Terminal Building was built in a hurry without proper access or Exit roads. Please look at the condition of the Entry to the Airport Terminal with such hairpin turns. Are these Ascents and Descents safer. Has anyone started thinking in this direction. My poor neighbour had problems to reach the Airport on Autorickshaw. My friend almost hit his car when he took hairpin turn to touch mainroad.

  • Walter Monteiro, belman/Abudhabi

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    Congrats and Good news. Why don't you give permissiom for other Airlines. Pl. do the needful. It is benifited for all Poor Pupil, all over the world.

  • Max E Rasquinha, Mangalore/Houston, Texas

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    Whether it is the airport or the sea port, we have come a long way towards the pathway of progress in Mangalore. Let us guide and help all our authorities to move forward with further progress thru so many positive lessons we have learned for the past 60 years. I still remember the eminent visit of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Mangalore. Communication system and road system was so primitive those days no one knew when exactly Pundit Nehru was arriving into Mangalore town for his official address at the Nehru Maidan. Pundit Nehru stayed at the Mirajkar Bungalow. It was such a confusion that due to lack of proper traffic control Pundit Nehru got out of his car and walked from the Govt. Arts College to the Nehru Maidan to deliver his address. The microphones were simple. The speakers were hung up on simple bamboo poles. We all sat at the muddy grounds. Those were the simple days but safe days where prominent dignitaries could just walk and move along without any kind of threat.

    Followed by the visit of Pundit Nehru came Cardinal Valerian Gracias from Bombay to Mangalore. We went to the airport by a hired bicycle because there were hardly any busses or taxis in those days. There were no rickshaws too. Those were still good days with lot of simplicity, lot of peace and harmony. That's one way to rejoice the past while we move along with the future.

  • Jawar D'Souza, M'Lore/Doha

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    Why cant we fill the Gorge with garbage which is very cheap, when I was doing my schooling in St Aloysius to extended the ground they filled it with garbage and capped it with a layer of soil.There was no much smell or so.

  • Roshan, m'bidri/a'dhabi

    Wed, Feb 16 2011

    More important than the celebration the safety of the passengers is top priority specially the runway after the aircrash it taken....?

  • shane, dxb/mng

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    We seems clever in counting years and praising at our own....... but the truth is that even after the innocence 158 lives perished in front of our eyes in daylight we have learnt any lesson yet. Still we are lagging behind in the terms of services like shorter runway,sub-standard exit road from airport to main road, other facilities like aero bridges etc., to be upgraded to call it a real international airport. Other wise just counting year after year worthless. Kannur/ Goa may grab the opportunity and bajpe for Intl passengers landing soon may become day dream !!!!!!


    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    Now a days our coastal area is glittering all over country because of, newly borned international airport...moreover renovated airport it is...iam really happy about specialised facility and services,and I am relly proud say "naanu mangalooriga"

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Tue, Feb 15 2011

    It is great to hear that so many good things are going to happen in coming years to this once a small Bajpe Aerodrome that was then staffed with half a dozen officials & Potters.
    Mr. M. R. Vasudeva & Mr. G. G. Mohandas Prabhu are the best people to celebrate the 60th birthday of the new avatar of our Bajpe Aerodrome to 'Mangalore International Airport' and I feel that sounds better than 'Ullal Srinivasa Mallya International Airport'.
    At least acquire the needed surrounding land for the future 3000 feet extension of the present runway. As Mr. M. R. Vasudeva mentioned, if the enlightened local citizens shoulder such responsibility like in Cochin and Calicut to finance the dream project the work of acquiring land can be undertaken immediately.

  • Antony D'Cunha, Permude/Muscat

    Mon, Feb 14 2011

    Having attained the maturity at 60, and now that the local bodies such as KCCI, etc., have come up with their whole hearted support, one can hope for an all round development for Mangalore Airport to take its image to next level and grab the opportunity without wasting time anymore or else we will miss the bus. Our neighbouring state will benefit if we delay anymore – knowing the fact that the current Aviation Minister is from that region.

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Title: It is Celebration Time for Mangalore Airport

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