Delay in land acquisition for RESA expansion forces AAI to shorten Karipur runway: Aviation minister

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Representational Image | Photo: Binoj PP/ Mathrubhumi

Kozhikode: The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on Thursday said that the runway of Karipur International Airport has to be shortened to construct the Runway End Safety Area (RESA).

"The state government has not yet provided a concrete explanation for the delay in acquiring land for RESA development. Therefore, the only option is to shorten the runway," said VK Singh, MoS for civil aviation in the Lok Sabha.

This is the first time that the ministry is officially confirming about the runway shortening. Earlier it was reported that the authorities were considering other options to strengthen RESA as shortening the runway will prohibit operation of larger planes from the airport.

The move to strengthen RESA was decided following the 2020 Air India Express crash at Karipur that took the lives of two pilots and 17 passengers.

The Air India Express Flight 1344 from Dubai on 7 August 2020, crashed after running beyond the runway while landing at Karipur airport. The flight, part of the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indians stranded in foreign countries due to COVID-19 restrictions, had 188 onboard. Following the accident, the ministry shortened the runway resulting in the ban of operations of large-bodied aircrafts at the second-busiest airport in the state. International traffic, especially to the Gulf countries, was severely affected due to this.

It is learnt that 14.5 acres have been earmarked for RESA expansion, but there is a procedural delay on the part of the state government. Local residents have been protesting against land acquisition. The Airport Authority of India is scheduled to start work in January 2023. Daytime flight operations will be stopped for this purpose.

Expanding the RESA would have prevented the 2020 accident, AAI believes. Acquisition of adjacent land or shortening the runway are the only options before AAI.

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