Decks Cleared For Expansion Of Darbhanga Airport In North Bihar, State Govt Transfers 76 Acre Land To AAI


The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has received the remaining 52.65 acres of land from the state government to expand Darbhanga airport.

The AAI had requested a total of 76 acres for development, and last November, the state government had transferred 23.75 acres land for the installation of a Category 1 instrument landing system (ILS).

This was done to support aircraft movement during night hours and handle difficult weather conditions in winter.

Darbhanga airport, which belongs to the Indian Air Force (IAF), got on the country’s air map with a SpiceJet flight from Bengaluru landing on 8 November 2020.

The state government has spent over Rs 342.4 crore on land acquisition for the development of Darbhanga airport.

Expansion Plan

With the transfer of 52.62-acre of land, the aircraft is set to get a major facelift.

This includes development of a new civil enclave spread over 52-acre of land, which will include a new terminal building, cargo complex, multilevel car parking, fire station and other allied structures.

The AAI is currently in the process of selecting the consultancy firm to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) for development of the airport and the total estimation of the project.

The bidding process will start once the DPR is approved. As per the initial plans, the two-storey terminal building will have the departure lounge on the first floor and arrival area on the ground floor. Besides, other supporting structures will be made as per the requirement.

Runaway Success

Darbhanga is not new to aviation and got on the country’s air map as early as 1950 when Maharaja Kameshwar Singh Bahadur started ‘Darbhanga Aviation’ with a fleet of four Douglas DC-3 aircraft.

After the 1962 Indo-China war, the IAF also took over the Darbhanga airport and has made it a major air base for fighter aircraft.

It was in 2014 when soon after coming to power, the NDA government at the Centre promised to revive civilian flights from Darbhanga.

The airline which became operational under regional connectivity scheme (RCS), popularly known as ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN)’ has emerged very successful.

Currently low-cost carrier Spice Jet operates from Darbhanga on three routes — Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru and IndiGo operates flight service from Darbhanga to Kolkata and Hyderabad.

According to data provided by AAI, a total of 1,865 passengers travelled to and from Darbhanga airport in 12 flights on 6 March.

The success of north Bihar’s first airport can be gauged from the fact that Darbhanga airport earned a profit of Rs 2.10 crore in fiscal 2021-22 while the state’s other two airports, in Gaya and Patna, ran into losses during the same period.

Teething Problems

The existing makeshift terminal is not capable to handle massive footfall of passenger and as such the AAI in March 2021 requested state government to provide 54 acres for civil enclave and 24 acres for CAT-1 approach light.

Meanwhile, work is also going on for the extension of the existing terminal building, which has the capacity to accommodate only 150 passengers at peak hours.

The Ministry of defence has already handed over 2.42 acres of land to the AAI for the expansion of the interim building spread over 700 square metre.

The expansion work of existing terminal building is expected to be completed by 31 August and will double the present peak-hour passenger capacity at the airport.