Mangalore (Karnataka), May 22 (Calcutta Tube) The Mangalore International Airport, where an Air India Express flight crashed Saturday killing nearly 170 people, opened in 1951 as the Bajpe Aerodrome when then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru arrived on the maiden flight.
The airspace over the city and its vicinity is among the most turbulent in the country.
‘Travel to Mangalore is actually scary. I have experienced some major turbulences and drops,’ said G. Ganga, who often takes a flight to the city from Chennai to visit pilgrim centres nearby, including Sringeri.
‘At times, the way the aircraft rattles, it makes you feel really awkward — like weighlessness. You just grab your arm rest tight and pray,’ Ganga told IANS from Chennai.
In June 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to cancel an event for laying a foundation stone for a $1.06-billion project of the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemical Ltd as his aircraft could not land there due to bad weather.
The airport’s take-off and landing strip is often called a ‘table-top runway’ as it is located on top of a hill. The drop, within 500 meters at the end of the runway, is steep and pilots have often considered landing here difficult.
In May 2006, the airport got a second runway made of concrete and it this runway — 2,450 meters or 8,000 feet long — that is now being used.
Last year, the government built a new terminal building at the airport, which was formally inaugurated by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa last week.
On Oct 3, 2006, the Air India Express 802 from Dubai became the first international flight to land in Mangalore. It was the the same scheduled operation of which a plane crashed Saturday.
Among the airlines that operate out of Mangalore, Air India Express flies to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha, Dubai, Kozhikode, Kuwait, Mumbai and Muscat. On the domestic circuit, its parent Air India flies to New Delhi, Mumbai and Kozhikode.