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ROUTES: Mumbai airport to add 11 destinations to network

Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) is targeting 11 new destinations for its network over the next two years.

At the top of its priority is to link Mumbai to Almaty and Uzbekistan. The airport will then focus on enhancing its connectivity to the Asia-Pacific with routes to Ho Chi Minh, Beijing, Guangzhou and the Philippines.

In Europe, it wants to add Barcelona, Madrid, Milan and Rome to its network, says Tariq Butt, vice-president of airport marketing and aero business at CSIA.

"We're giving a two-year timeline to add these destinations. Some, like connections to Almaty, should be able to start within the next six to eight months. There is a demand in the Indian market that no one can ignore," he adds.

Construction of a new terminal at the airport will also be done by 2013, adding 40 million to its passenger capacity. International airlines will shift to the new terminal in September 2013, followed by domestic airlines a year later.

CSIA's passenger throughput hit 30.75 million in 2011, with annual growth forecast to be at 5%. There will be an eventual need for a new airport to cope with the traffic in Mumbai, says Butt.

In 2007, the Indian government gave approval to have a second international airport in Mumbai because the existing one had been expected to exceed capacity by 2013. There are challenges surrounding the Navi Mumbai project, however, including the environment impact of reclaiming land in an ecologically weak zone.

Issues regarding land acquisition are still being sorted out, while environmental challenges have since been overcome. A tender has gone out for a public-private partnership for the Navi Mumbai project and a decision will be made by the Maharashtra state-government within the next three months.

"We have the first right of refusal, and we're definitely interested to be a part of the project," says Butt.

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