PATNA: Even as neighbouring Jharkhand got Bokaro airport functional on Saturday under the Udan scheme of Union civil aviation ministry, Bihar will have to wait a little longer for getting Darbhanga airstrip operational under the same scheme.
Sources in the civil aviation ministry said the project hit a roadblock owing to non-availability of bidders for re-carpeting of the runway at Darbhanga. Consequently, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials said flights operation from Darbhanga, which was to commence from January next year, will be delayed.
Earlier in January this year, SpiceJet was given a letter of award to operate flights from Darbhanga to Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) seeks to connect unserved and under-served airports with fares capped at Rs2,500 for one-hour flights.
“No bidder is ready to complete the re-carpeting work at Darbhanga airport in such short span of time. This work will require around nine months to be completed,” a senior AAI official at Patna airport said and added that the contract for various other works required for operating commercial flights had been awarded.
“Tenders for the construction of approach road, installation of PAPI and conveyor belts have been awarded. Construction work will be initiated to ensure smoother connectivity to and from the terminal building and dispersal area,” AAI had tweeted on August 18.
Sources said the Darbhanga runway is at least 8,000 feet long and aircraft like Airbus A-320 can easily operate from there. The Darbhanga airstrip is owned by India Air Force (IAF) and a civil enclave or terminal building along with ATC (air traffic control) tower, parking apron and cargo among other facilities are required to be provided for commencement of commercial flight operations.
On August 18, Union minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha had also claimed that he was personally monitoring the development of Darbhanga airstrip.