Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, also known as Sonegaon Airport, is the main domestic and international airport serving the city of Nagpur in the Indian state of Maharashtra. This public facility is managed and operated by the Airports Authority of India and was named after Indian economist and politician Bhimrao Babasaheb Ambedkar.

The airport has a strategic position in a prosperous region of central India; because of this, it is now the subject of the Multimodal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN). The plan is to develop the airport as a major international passenger and cargo hub, and to encourage a new economy to be developed around the airport.

Sonegaon Airport handles over a million passengers, 14,500 aircraft movements and handles 9,000t of cargo a year. It has two runways: the 09/27 (1,938m) and the 14/32 (3,200m), the latter of which will be extended as part of the MIHAN project from 3,200m × 45m to 3,600m × 60m to allow the landing of larger wide-bodied aircraft for cargo operations.

There will also be apron parking for 50 aircraft at any one time, and provision is being made for the construction of a new 4,000m × 60m runway in a future phase.

MIHAN background

"The target for Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport will be to serve 14 million passengers by 2025."

MIHAN is one of the largest economic development projects underway in India. A consortium led by L and T Ramboll Consulting Engineers was asked to undertake a techno-economic-feasibility study for the project in 2004-05 (the study supported the project).

The project was designed to make the most of the central location of Nagpur and to convert the airport into a major cargo hub with multimodal integrated road and rail systems. The project consists of two parts: the international airport acting as a new cargo hub; and a special economic zone of 2,086ha with an accompanying residential zone covering a total area of 40.25km2 on the southern end of the city of Nagpur, adjacent to the airport.

The Government of Maharashtra formed a special purpose entity called the Maharashtra Airport Development Company to mediate in the development of the MIHAN project.

The project was financed by Indian banks with a total loan amount of Rs7bn, and an investment from the state government and the Airports Authority of India. The projected target for the airport will be to serve 14 million passengers and handle 0.87 million tonnes of cargo by 2025 (handling 50 aircraft a day).

MIHAN projects

The water supply and sewage system for the airport was constructed by Kirloskar Consultants and Nagarjuna Construction, and completed in August 2010 at a cost of Rs2.41bn. The Rs1.90bn road network was built by SPAN Consultants and the PBA Sadbhav joint venture, and was finished in 2010. The Rs750m rail bridge and interchange was completed in 2010 by Consulting Engineering Services India and AFCONS Infrastructure.

The stormwater system was completed by SPAN Consultants and PBA Infrastructure in 2010 and the power infrastructure was installed by Mott MacDonald and Jyoti Structures. The project central facility building was built by Larsen & Toubro (ECC Division) and Shapoorji Palloonji. The fire station was carried out by Prasad & Associates and Yeses Infrastructure.

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International terminal expansion

One of the major projects at Sonegaon Airport is the expansion of the 10,000m2 terminal building. The project will costs Rs790m and will cover the addition of a new 7,500m2 section to give a more rectangular shape with a total floor space of 17,500m2, and allow the processing of 400 domestic passengers and 150 international passengers at any one time.

"The airport at Nagpur has a strategic position in a prosperous region of central India."

The new terminal section is a steel and glass structure opened in April 2008. Its facilities include central air-conditioning, passenger boarding bridges with visual docking guidance system, escalators, lifts, a baggage conveyor system in arrivals and departure hall, CCTV and FIDS.

In addition, the terminal now has 20 check-in counters and 20 immigration counters, as well as a state-of-the-art 24-hour medical centre, an air-conditioned bus service (Vansh Nimaya Infraprojects), a 600-space car park, a pre-paid taxi service, a viewing gallery in the old section of the terminal, a duty free shop, internet cafe, a new restaurant and food court, and two new height-adjustable aerobridges. The two new aerobridges became operational in 2011.

Additional plans

The Airport Authority of India is constructing a new link/approach road to the airport from the main highway. There will also be an improvement in the ATM and communication, navigation facilities at the airport. There are also plans for a new control tower and technical block with facilities.

In July 2008, Deccan Cargo Private announced it would invest in a 48 acre cargo facility at the airport as part of the MIHAN project. US aircraft manufacturer Boeing said it would make an investment of $185m to set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility and an aeronautical training institute at a 75 acre site at the airport.