Daijiworld Media Network
Mangalore, Dec 5: It has been a month since J T Radhakrishna has taken over as the Director of Mangalore International Airport following the retirement of M R Vasudeva in October this year. Vasudeva, who was the Airport Director of the Mangalore Airport for nearly 10 years, was the face of the Mangalore Airport and whoever steps into his shoes will be naturally compared to him. Comparisons are no doubt odious but Radhakrishna seem to have no problem with the high expectations people have because he does not consider it as a burden.
A man of few words, Radhakrishna prefers his work to speak for himself and has already chalked out a clear plan keeping in mind the all-round progress of the airport and the safety of the passengers.
In an exclusive interview with daijiworld.com he delineates the various developmental plans under progress at Mangalore International Airport.
Q. Is it difficult to get into the seat adorned by M R Vasudeva?
A. Vasudeva was the Airport Director of Mangalore International Airport for almost ten years and knew the ins and outs of the airport. It was during his tenure the second runway and the new terminal was built and became operational. It is just month since I have taken over as the Director and I know this place having supervised the construction of the new runway and also the construction of the new terminal building. I know the expectations are high and I will do my best for the overall improvement of the airport.
Q. What is going to be your priority in your capacity as the Airport Director?
A. Development of the airport and safety and comforts of the passengers is always the priority while undertaking any developmental work.
Q. With Jet Airways getting government approval recently to fly international from Mangalore to Dubai will there be more private airlines flying from Mangalore soon?
A. The government has just approved the proposal of Jet Airways to fly Mangalore-Dubai to start with. It is not confirmed but Jet has planned the schedule and the launching is scheduled for December 20, 2012. There has been lot of inquiries from private airlines both private and foreign and all the formalities will have to be completed at our head office. But all these airlines will conduct their own surveys before venturing into this and it will take its own time for to actually begin their service.
Q. Does Mangalore airport have necessary infrastructure to handle private and foreign international airlines?
A. Extension of the runway to 1100 meters is the need of the hour so that the airport can handle wide bodied aircrafts. At present Mangalore airport can handle smaller aircrafts such as Airbus A320. If the runway is extended the airport is capable of accepting larger aircrafts such as Airbus A-330 and Boeing 777. Larger aircrafts means passengers will be able to carry more luggages, more cargo, more goods capacity etc. It is a big project and we require at least 280 acres of land for completing this. We have requested the state government to provide the land for us and we are hopeful we will be able to get the required land.
Q. What are the safety aspects undertaken at the Mangalore International Airport?
A. With a view to enhance the safety and security of Mangalore airport and also to bring different air control units under one roof we are constructing a new Control Tower building which is now under construction. At present we don’t have full-pledged view of the area around the airport. Mangalore being the area control centre has lot of equipments with a radar capacity for tracing aircrafts up to 250 nautical miles. We will accommodate all these equipments in the new control tower. This project is expected to be completed by December 2013.
Q. Is there any area of concern that calls for immediate attention at the airport?
A. There is no cause for concern on any aspect as of now. All the stakeholders must co-operate with us to realize our goals of providing top priority for safety and security aspects. Considering that there will have more flights in the near future with private airlines gearing up for international flights there is a need to enhance security at the airport. Earlier the airport used to be closed during nights but now that more flights will be coming during night time we will have a 24X7 security system at the airport.
Q. What about the exit road which is in a deplorable condition?
A. The work on the exit road has been undertaken by Karnataka State Road Development Corporation recently and work will begin here in a month’s time. We are also acquiring the Deccan Park area and the building will be demolished subsequently so that there are no operational or technical hitches concerning the safety aspects. This exit road will be much better than the approach road with lesser curves and will be much smoother.
Q. What confidence building measures have been undertaken to reduce skirmishes among customs officials and passengers at the airport?
A. It is our intention to avoid any instances that might bring a bad repute to the airport. Every month we sit with top customs officials and work out. If any issues come up during such meetings we take them up and bring it to the notice of the Commissioner of Customs. But we cannot comment on their work because it does not come under us. At the same time I feel that passengers also should be aware of certain rules and regulations and avoid committing violations with regard to carrying valuables.
Q. These violations happen because the limit is only Rs. 25,000/-, which is in vogue for the last 10 years…
A. The Customs officials have taken the matter to the officials concerned at the Finance Ministry. Other organizations should also approach the concerned departments so that this limit is enhanced.
Q. What is the headway made with regard to the International Cargo Complex to come up at the old terminal building?
A. We have made the entire infrastructure required for a cargo complex and proposals have gone to the Central Government Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). We are now waiting for the clearance call and based on that clearance, custodianship will be given to Airport Authority of India Ltd for the Cargo Complex.
Q. In what way Cargo Complex will be beneficial?
A. Having an international Cargo complex will give fillip to import and export from South Kanara. This will be a great opportunity for the businessmen and manufacturers to import or export their products. We are expecting to get the clearance within a month or two from CBEC. Once the clearance is obtained it will take only a month for the cargo complex to become operational.