Patel plans to upgrade Akola airport

Work on the proposed international cargo hub project at Nagpur may be limping along, but civil aviation minister Praful Patel is not slowing down in his drive to bring his native region of Vidarbha, in Maharashtra, onto the aviation map.

After upgrading the airport in his hometown, Gondia, Patel's next 'home project' is the development of Akola airport. The airstrip at Akola, a town about about 250 km from Nagpur, has a 4,000-foot runway and is under the control of the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Work is already underway to add another 600 feet to the runway, renovate the existing small terminal building and, eventually, build a modern, new terminal building. Patel discussed plans to upgrade Akola airport with airport officials in Nagpur on 27 July, sources indicated.

Plans have already been prepared to renovate the existing terminal building at a cost of Rs1.5 crore ($375,000). There is also a proposal to develop a Rs15-crore ($3.75 million) modern terminal building with a fire station, an air traffic control (ATC) block and other necessary installations.