The maiden trial flight to the newly constructed Shirdi airport from Mumbai landed successfully here last evening.
The Alliance Air ATR 72-600 aircraft touched down at 5 pm yesterday with the state’s civil aviation minister and other dignitaries on board.
The flight, which took off from Mumbai at 4.15 pm with Maharashtra’s civil aviation minister Ram Shinde, senior officials from the DGCA and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security along with senior state government officials, was received at the airport by local MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.
The 72-seater ATR plane of Air India’s regional arm Alliance Air took off from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 4.15 pm and successfully landed in 45 minutes at Shirdi airport, Maharashtra Airport Development Company’s (MADC) vice chairman and managing director Suresh Kakani said.
Owned and developed by MADC, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to develop airports in the state, the aerodrome in the temple town is set for inauguration at the hands of President Ramnath Kovind on October 1.
The full-fledged commercial operations, however, will commence at a later date.
On September 21, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had granted aerodrome licence to the airport in Shirdi for public use for day operations “after ensuring compliance with all relevant standards.”
Besides Alliance Air, the Hyderabad-based regional airline TruJet and Zoom Air will also be flying to Shirdi.
Budget carrier IndiGo has also applied for launching air services to Shirdi, Kakani had earlier said.
To begin with, four flights will be operated from Mumbai and one each from Delhi and Hyderabad. In all, the airport will handle 12 flights a day.
According to an estimate, about 60,000 pilgrims visit Shirdi every day. The airport authorities plan to tap at least 10-12 per cent of the tourists.
Constructed at an investment of around Rs 350 crore, including Rs 50 crore from the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, the airport is capable of handling single narrow-body aircraft, such as Airbus A320 and Boeing 737s with a 2,500- meter long runway.
The 2,750 sqm terminal building has been designed to handle a total of 300 passengers, including the arriving ones.