In its announcement on Tuesday, the Maharashtra government said the airport is expected to be operational by December 2019. Aviation sector experts, however, have termed the deadline as unrealistic. Aviation consultancy CAPA estimates that the Navi Mumbai airport is unlikely to be functional by March 2024.
Financial bids for the project were opened in February and MIAL was selected as it offered a higher revenue share of 12.6 per cent to project implementing agency Cidco. The airport developer will also pay a concession fee ranging from Rs 5 crore to Rs 1,250 crore to Cidco.
While the government sat on the proposal to select the developer for eight months, pre-development works commenced in June. Works include flattening of hillock, diversion of river and reclamation of marshland. So far a portion of hill on the western side has been blasted and landfill carried out in 25 hectares. River diversion work, too, is underway but the work proceeded slowly because of rain and villagers protests over compensation.
The airport project has been in the planning stages since the 1990s but has faced delays and roadblocks in land acquisition and environmental clearances.