Jammu Airport gets new look without extended airstrip

Nishikant Khajuria
To the much delight and convenience of passengers traveling through Jammu Airport, the expansion project of Terminal Building was recently completed by the Airports Authority of India team and dedicated to public.  The upgraded passenger terminal was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, P Ashok Gajapati Raju along with Union Minister in PMO with independent charge of North Eastern States, Dr Jitendra Singh and Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, last month.
With the commissioning of Rs 90 crore modernization and expansion of the airport terminal project, the passengers at the Jammu Airport are now getting enhanced facilities coupled with modern technology.  The total area of the Jammu Airport Terminal building has now expanded from 6500 sq meter to 14500 sq meters with raised Pax capacity from 360 to 720 passengers per hour besides additional facilities like escalators, shopping complex at arrival as well as departure hall. Escalators and Elevators are the new facilities, which have been introduced at Jammu Airport for the first time. The green features incorporated in the passenger terminal building include rain water harvesting, re- use of treated water for horticulture, low heat gain glazing, LED lighting, etc.
Now the terminal handling capacity of  Jammu Airport has double  from 360 (180+180) to 720 (360+360) passengers with 21 check in counters, seven X-ray machines, six frisking booths, three escalators (two for departure and one for arrival), three elevators ( one each in  Departure, Security Hold and Arrival).
The  much needed shelter for the  passengers  from extreme weather  conditions , by way of providing tensile fabrics canopy  from  airport ticketing counters till exit gate  has  further enhanced the convenience  of the air travelers. For safety and security of passengers, Terminal building has been equipped with Fire Fighting and Fire Alarm System, CCTV and Baggage Scanners etc.  The number of CCTV, installed at the Airport, has been increased from 60 to 140.   The capacity of parking area has also been increased from 80 cars to 160 cars and 50 two-wheelers to 100 two-wheelers.
The upgraded passenger Terminal Building of Jammu Airport is equipped with    double insulated roofing system, rainwater harvesting, 200 KLD sewage treatment plant (soil-based technology), reuse of treated water for horticulture and air conditioning purposes, use of fly ash bricks, low heat gain glazing, low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints, LED lighting, energy efficient chillers and VFDs (Variable Frequency Drive) for high Capacity Motors.
Further, there is a provision for installation of three Passenger Boarding Bridges with Advanced Visual Docking Guidance System (AVDGS) for the Terminal, which would increase operational efficiency besides convenience to passengers. Order for import of these   three passenger aerobridges has been placed and the same are likely to be delivered at Jammu Airport by the end of September, 2017. Ground work for the installation has already been done and once these aerobridges are commissioned, the first floor area of the Terminal building shall be opened for flight movements,   offering world class airport experience to the passengers.
The Rs 90 crore Jammu Airport Terminal building was constructed by M/s Kapahi Construction Company. The project was sanctioned in 2013 but the work was started in 2014. Earlier it was decided to halt the work on this project upto 2019 but on intervention of MoS in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh, who is also MP Udhampur-Kathua-Doda constituency, the Civil Aviation Ministry issued orders for starting the work on the upgradation of airport.
Even as expansion and modification of operationally busy airport like Jammu was a challenging task by all standards, the Jammu team of Airport Authority of India, under the leadership of Airport Director D K Gautam has delivered its best in execution of the expansion project.  Jammu being the hypersensitive airport with lots of security restrictions in place at the airport accompanied by space constraints, execution of such massive expansion work without any flight disruptions and minimum inconvenience to the passengers,  was  a major achievement for the team of D K Gautam.
However, on the other hand, the much needed and proposed runway expansion of Jammu Airport from existing 6700 feet to 8000 feet is still awaited because of prolonged delay in handing over of land by the Army authorities to the Airport Authority of India. Despite approval by the Ministry of Defence in 2013, the concerned Army Authorities are still delaying shifting of their military installations from the identified area for the runway expansion. Even as the State Government has completed all the formalities like transferring 138 kanals of Forest land to the Army at Sunjwan in exchange of the land under its occupation adjoining the airport and release of Rs 7 crore as compensation for the utilities, which are to be razed, the Defence authorities are delaying eviction of land on the one or the other pretext.
Besides extending the existing runway to make it proper for landing and taking off for all types of aircraft, the handing over of the Army land will pave way for adding one more exit/entry route for the aircrafts thus facilitating landing and parking of more planes at a time. With more expansion of the runway at the Jammu Airport, landing of Boeing 707 and Airbus 320 to full capacity would be facilitated.
Urgency for extension of Jammu Airport runway can be gauged from the fact that landing of big aircrafts here becomes risky sometimes.  Only two months back, air passengers had a narrow escape when an Air India flight experienced a tyre burst while landing at Jammu Airport, apparently because of more pressure on brakes.
Since security of the passengers is most important, the Government and Defence authorities need to ensure that the required land is handed over to the AAI as early as possible so that work on extension of the runway is started for safe landing of planes.