There is hope that operations at Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) will begin by the end of 2019.

City Industrial and Development Corporation (CIDCO) officials have stated that by December, the first phase of levelling the Ulwe hill, NMIA’s building site, will be completed. Work on the project is likely to begin next month.

The state had started planning construction of the Navi Mumbai airport in 2007. It got a final nod from the government to start work in July 2016, but unforeseen hurdles delayed the project further.

The idea behind developing NMIA is to easy the traffic at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), which is running beyond its full capacity.

Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha has indicated that in the next five years, Navi Mumbai International Airport would be able to take the load off CSIA that has a “bottle-necked single runway”.

Last year, due to delays in commencing work on NMIA, the government looked towards reviving an unserved airport in Kalyan instead, 30km from Navi Mumbai. Now, since NMIA is underway again, the Kalyan airport won’t be revived for international flights. It could, however, be part of the government’s UDAN scheme.

National newspaper The Indian Express quoted CIDCO spokesperson Mohan Ninawe: “We are working towards the target [to complete the NMIA project]. We are carrying out work in such a way that at least the first flight would be operational by 2019.”

He goes on to share that rehabilitation of the 3,000 families living on the land allotted to the airport, and a few legal clearances are the main reasons for the project’s delay in execution. “We are awaiting the final environmental clearance for undertaking the project. Once that is received, the work can be carried out in full swing,” Ninawe was quoted saying.

NMIA will have two parallel runways that can handle a total of 80 flight movements per hour.