A new airport near Shirdi is likely to be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi by July end this year. The good news is that with the functioning of the airport, the travelling time between Mumbai and Shirdi will be just 40 minutes by air. The airport is near Shirdi in Ahmednagar in the state of Maharashtra. This will be of great help to thousands of pilgrims who visit Shirdi, the temple town of Sai Baba, from Maharashtra and other states. Otherwise, most pilgrims take road transport to reach Shirdi. It normally takes 5 to 6 hours from Mumbai to Shirdi to travel by road. The distance from Mumbai to Shirdi is 238 km.
Cost of the Airport
Total cost of the airport is estimated at Rs 340 crore, out of which the Saibaba Sansthan Trust contributed Rs. 45 crore. Some expenditure was also borne by the Maharashtra government. Rs 240 crore has been spent on the first phase.
Highlights of the Airport
- The Shirdi airport got sanctioned in 2010.
- It will be owned by the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC).
- The airport will also be operated by MADC.
- This is the first airport project by MADC.
- It has been partially financed by the Saibaba Sansthan Trust.
- It has a 2,500 meter long runway.
- The airport also has a terminal building, ATC tower and four watchtowers among other things.
- There is a single wide-gate manned by four officials of the Maharashtra Security Force (MSF) at the airport.
- The airport spreads over 350-hectare in Ahmednagar, which is 14 km from Shirdi.
First phase of operation
- In the initial phase, four flights will be operational every day with passenger traffic of 700 to 800.
- The airport is large enough to accommodate and ply aircraft ranging from ATRs to an Airbus 320.
- Officials of various airlines like Alliance Air, Trujet and Indigo have already visited the site.
Second phase of operation
- The authorities of MADC have also stated that by October, plans are in progress to start international flights to Shirdi. This is the time of festivals and many foreign tourists visit to Shirdi.
- The second phase will include a new terminal building and ATC tower.
- Four hangars will be rented out to private jets.
- Setting up of five-star resorts and shopping complexes in the vacant plots of lands near by are also in the process.
Cities to cover
Not only Mumbai, the airport will also connect Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.
There are certain crucial things that need to be in place before the inauguration of the airport. It does not have the following:
- Operating license from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
- Water connection on a permanent basis
- Permanent source of power
- A public address system
- Food-supply resources
- Strengthening of security etc.
To sum up
Once the hitches are taken care of and the airport becomes fully functional with all facilities, reaching Shirdi in 40 minutes from Mumbai will be a dream come true for all Sai devotees.