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Bangalore airport to close down for repairs
Kabir Taneja  NEW DELHI | 4th Mar 2012

angalore's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, one of the busier airports in the country is bracing for a complete shutdown on 11 March due to major repair works on its runway. Connectivity to India's IT capital is likely to become a nightmare for at least a couple of months. In an AIRAC AIP supplement issued by the Airport Authorities of India, the Bangalore airport has been sanctioned to undergo a massive overhaul of its only runway after just four years of operations.

The supplement says that the runway will be completely shut down for operations between 5am to 12 pm during the first phase starting 11 March, effectively paralysing all operations at the airport for over six hours every day for nearly a month. During rest of the phases, airlines may face aircraft operational weight restrictions other than scheduling issues. All maintenance work will only be finished by the first week of May.

Barely four years old, the runway was designed to last for more than a decade without major repairs, but it is now facing serious degradation of quality, specifically relating to the 450mm thick runways top layer and the authorities are rushing to take the necessary steps before the monsoon season sets in.

"A combination of reasons has resulted in the current situation," said a spokesman for Bangalore International Airport (BIAL).

"All runways at some point of time need resurfacing. However the timing of resurfacing depends entirely on extent to which the design conditions have changed over the operational life of the runway." he addded.

Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T), the company behind the construction of the runway along with other projects at the airport initially invested Rs 55 cr for a 17% stake in the project along with Zurich Airport which invested the same amount. L&T later exited the consortium by selling its stake to majority stake holder and leading infrastructure developer, GVK, for Rs 686 cr in 2009.

However BIAL authorities are now facing an embarrassing challenge to uphold the reputation of one of India's most modern and young airports. According to reports a specialised civil engineering consulting firm from the US conducted detailed analysis of the runway and the results brought to light structural engineering failures that required immediate attention. Attempts at repairing the faults have been ongoing since then without achieving the desired results.

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