Due to the novel Coronavirus outbreak, work on the runway capacity enhancement project at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram has been stalled.
The project titled "Strengthening of Existing Runway & Taxiway at Shah Amanat International Airport Chattogram" was undertaken to increase the runway capacity to make the airport more suitable for operations of large-sized aircraft such as Boeing-777.
Mohammad Ali, manager (acting) of Shah Amanat International Airport, said although the core work of the project was supposed to be completed by December this year after starting it in March. However, the concerned construction firms have yet to start the work due to Covid-19.
The project will be jointly implemented by local company Messrs Mir Akhtar and Chinese company CAMCE at a cost of Tk4,727,568,000.
In this prevailing Covid-19 situation, the authorities concerned are not sure when the work of the project can be started.
Currently, the Airport's runway power Pavement Classification Number (PCN) is 66. As Boeing-777 aircraft are being operated at the airport, runway PCN 90 is required for safe landing of these aircraft.
Pavement Classification Number (PCN) is a number that expresses the load-carrying capacity of a pavement for unrestricted operations.
PCN is an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard used in combination with the Aircraft Classification Number (ACN) to indicate the strength of a runway, taxiway or apron.
For that, the Civil Aviation Authority took the initiative to increase the runway power or the capacity of the airport. A project for major renovations was undertaken at the airport after 19 years.
Airport Manager (Acting) Mohammad Ali told The Business Standard that as the project's work has yet to begin; it is not possible to complete it by this December.
''Work on the project will begin once the situation is normal. Necessary material – including stones and bitumen – were imported from different countries, '' he said.
Airport sources said the renovation work will be done from 11pm to 6am the next day when flights remain suspended at the airport. So, this will not hamper the scheduled flights of the airport.
Flight operations at this airport have increased by 2.8 percent in the last five years. Passengers on domestic and international flights have increased by 7.8 percent. In 2019, 18 lakh passengers were transported through this airport. In 2018, 16.93 lakh passengers were transported. Passenger transport has increased by 1.7 lakh in a year, they added.
Chattogram Airport was upgraded to a full-fledged international airport in 1998-2001 with Japanese funding. Alongside the expansion of the runway, work was also carried out at that time to increase the strength of the existing runway with bituminous concrete.
At that time, the pavement classification number (PCN) of the runway was 66 that was built for safe aviation of DC-10-30 aircraft.