Kolkata airport currently has a runway capacity of only 30 flights per hour
Airports Authority of India is considering a second airport for Kolkata.
A decision taken during World War II has now come to haunt Kolkata airport’s growth prospects. The airport which currently has a runway capacity of only 30 flights per hour, could have handled twice the number of flights had there been a proper second runway at its disposal. But the plan to create a second cross runway in the east-west direction was junked and instead a parallel runway was built that cannot be used for simultaneous operations now because they do not meet safety parameters.
It is this runway constraint, coupled with lack of space for additional parking bays that is forcing Airports Authority of India to consider a second airport for Kolkata.
It was the Allied Forces’ fear of the airport at Dum Dum being bombed by Axis powers during World War II that led to the British opting for parallel runways instead of ones that cross each other. With Japanese bombers a constant threat, the Allied Forces felt that if a bomb was dropped at the point where the runways intersect, it would take out both runways. Instead, having them parallel would give them an opportunity to use the alternative runway if one was destroyed.
“Kolkata airport’s first landing strip dates back to the 1920s. It was later strengthened for use as taxiway and is still in use to taxi aircraft. Around 1932-33, a proper runway was constructed in the north-south direction. This is now the secondary runway at Kolkata airport. To cater to the increased requirement during WW II, it was decided to construct another runway around 1942-43. That is when the cross runway proposal was mooted and then dropped in favour of the parallel runway,” the source said.
While airports around the world have parallel runways in which flights take off and land simultaneously, it is not possible at Kolkata airport because the two runways are too close to each other. “When they were built, there were Dakota and Fokker planes with small wing span. The separation between the two runways at Kolkata airport at 213 metres was sufficient then. But as aircraft dimension changed, the minimum distance criteria was revised. Today’s Boeing and Airbus with large wing spans require a minimum distance of 760 metre between parallel runways. There is no space at Kolkata airport to create that separation as the terminal building is located to the west and boundary wall to the east,” an official said.
At present, the primary runway is used for flight operations with the secondary runway coming into play when the primary runway is shut down for maintenance or other exigencies.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Subhro Niyogi / TNN / November 14th, 2017