New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday inaugurated the newly-built Shirdi airport in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district. Developed by the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC), the airport in Rahata sub-district, around 240 kms north-west of Mumbai, has been built at an approximate cost Rs 350 crore. Reportedly a portion of the investment for the airport, nearly Rs 50 crore, was contributed by the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST), which is among the richest religious bodies in the country.
The inauguration of the airport marks the start of the year-long centenary celebrations of Shri Saibaba Samadhi for which over 11 million pilgrims are expected from around the world. Permitted initially for daytime operations by the DGCA, the new airport will slash the travel time between Mumbai and Shirdi, from six hours to barely 45 minutes.
Here are the key features of the new airport:
- The airport was sanctioned in 2010, in a bid to promote religious tourism.
- The Shirdi airport has 2,500 meter long runway, which can handle single narrow-body aircraft, such as Airbus A320 and Boeing 737s
- The airport has a 2,750 square meter terminal building and a hangar for parking four aircraft.
- The travel time between Mumbai and Shirdi which takes around five-six hours, would be slashed to 45 minutes.
- The airport will be equipped with the night landing facility in upcoming months.
- The airport which is spread across 400 hectares, will see four flights to Mumbai (one each from Delhi and Hyderabad).
Talking to PTI, MADC vice-chairperson and managing director Suresh Kakani had earlier said that Alliance Air and Hyderabad-based regional carrier TruJet have filed the schedule for flights to Shirdi from Mumbai and Hyderabad, respectively. “Budget carrier IndiGo has also applied for launching air services to Shirdi. But now as per the latest reports, apart from Alliance Air, TruJet, regional airline Zoom Air will also be operating flights between Mumbai and Shirdi.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, MADC Vice-Chairman and MD Suresh Kakani, other top central and state officials.