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Jharkhand: Commercial Operations At State's Third Airport At Bokaro Likely Soon

Amit Mishra

Jan 09, 2023, 03:07 PM | Updated 04:11 PM IST

The Deoghar Airport. (AAI)
The Deoghar Airport. (AAI)

Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and Airport Authority of India (AAI) have signed an operation and management (O&M) agreement for facilitating commercial operations from Bokaro Airport in Jharkhand.

The agreement signed before for commercial flights operation at Bokaro Airport had expired in March 2021, which now has again been re-established for the next three years.

Presently, Bokaro Airport is an aerodrome owned and handled by Bokaro Steel Plant (BSL), SAIL and handles non-scheduled flight operations for SAIL aircraft or VIP movement.

With the start of civil operations, the Bokaro Airport will connect the steel city to Patna in Bihar and Kolkata in West Bengal.

Significant Delay

In April 2018, SAIL signed a pact with AAI and the Ministry of Civil Aviation for using three of the PSU’s airstrips — Rourkela (Odisha), Bokaro (Jharkhand) and Burnpur (West Bengal) — under the UDAN scheme, for operation of commercial flights.

Soon after, the AAI started work to revamp the Bokaro Airport at a cost of Rs 46 crore.

The project included construction of a terminal building with a peak-hour passenger capacity of 300 along with strengthening and re-carpeting the runway, apron and taxi track for ATR-72 aircraft.

The foundation for Bokaro Airport was laid down in 2018, almost close to Deoghar Airport. However, while Deoghar Airport started its operations on 12 July 2022, the Bokaro Airport’s expansion project is far from over.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while inaugurating the Deoghar Airport had said that the Centre would soon make Bokaro Airport functional.

DGCA Licence

A three-member team of AAI has already started obstacle limitation surfaces (OLS) survey at Bokaro Airport in December 2022. The survey is being done to identify obstacles related to starting of flight services.

This is the final survey required to be done for getting aerodrome licence from Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for flight operations.

With SpiceJet already having given its consent to start flight service from Bokaro Airport and O&M agreement in place, the commercial operations from the airport are expected to start soon.

Jharkhand has two functional airports at Ranchi and Deoghar. The number will increase to five once the airports at Bokaro, Dumka and Jamshedpur are commissioned. The five airports would open up 14 new aviation routes between the state and Kolkata in West Bengal and Patna in Bihar.

SAIL’s Outreach

SAIL, one of the largest steel companies in the country and a ‘Maharatna’ PSU, has been actively participating in the development of peripheral areas around its production facilities. This endeavour, in the public interest, is likely to boost economic activities in this region.

Similar to Bokaro, the Rourkela Airport is awaiting the nod of the aviation regulator DGCA to start civil operations. The government has focussed on the upgradation of the Rourkela Airport in view of the FIH Men’s World Cup scheduled to be held in Odisha in January 2023.

The AAI has spent about Rs 28 crore on the upgradation of the Rourkela Airport which is a property of SAIL and also signed an agreement with SAIL on 12 December 2022 to operationalise it.

The Burnpur airstrip at SAIL’S Iisco Steel Plant in Asansol, West Bengal, is being developed by the AAI. The licensing for the airport is under process.

The start of operations at Rourkela, Bokaro and Burnpur airports under the RCS-UDAN would benefit the citizens of these cities through better connectivity and also speed up the development activities in the region.

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