Nashik: After months of expectation, the first flight to Shirdi landed at the Shirdi airport as a part of the test run, as per a media report.
An Alliance Air ATR 72-600, which is a subsidiary of Air India aircraft, was used for the test run, which departed from Mumbai international terminal on September 26, at 4:15 pm, landed in Shirdi at 5 pm. The flight then departed from Shirdi at 6 pm and reached Mumbai at 6:35 pm.
Passengers who boarded the flight included State Civil Aviation Secretary Valsa Nair Singh, Mukesh Bhatia, regional director, Air India, managing director of MADC (Maharashtra Airport Development Company), Suresh Kakani, and other officials.
The Sri Saibaba International Airport is all set to be inaugurated on October 1 by President Ram Nath Kovind. The function is scheduled at 10 am, after which they will proceed towards the Shirdi Sai Baba temple for the centenary celebrations of Shri Sai Baba, which is 15 km from the airport.
Besides Alliance Air, the Hyderabad-based regional airline TruJet and Zoom Air will also be flying to Shirdi. To begin with, four flights will be operated from Mumbai and one each from Delhi and Hyderabad. In all, the airport will handle 12 flights a day.
According to an estimate, about 60,000 pilgrims visit Shirdi every day. The airport authorities plan to tap at least 10-12 per cent of the tourists.
The airport will feature a 2,500 m runway, a 2,750sqm terminal building, and a hangar for parking four aircraft. The state has planned services for Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad, expecting to ferry at least 500 passengers per day.