No toilet breaks for pilots at Juhu airport?
There are no designated restrooms for aviators at the aerodrome, which also lacks basic facilities like a passenger terminal
It's no fun being a pilot at the Juhu aerodrome. The country's first civil aviation airport, which is currently used by small private aircraft and as a heliport, lacks basic amenities like restrooms and cafeterias. So, pilots have to approach other hangars to relieve themselves and for refreshments after landing.
On the wings of a prayer: 60 per cent of the operators do not have
hangars at the Juhu aerodrome. File Pic
"We struggle to find a place where we can rest after landing. No urinal, no cafeteria -- we literally beg at other hangars to avail these facilities," said a chopper pilot, wishing anonymity.
That's not all. This airfield, which handles about a 100 flight operations every day, does not have a passenger terminal till date. 60 per cent of the operators do not have hangars at the Juhu aerodrome.
Lacking a plan?
The authorities too confirmed the lack of these facilities. "We do not have these services available. However, in the proposed master plan, there is a provision for constructing a passenger terminal along with a separate restroom for pilots, where all the basic facilities would be in place," said an official from Juhu aerodrome.
However, work on this master plan is yet to begin due to crisis of funds, sources say.
The issues related to these services were also raised by the Rotary Wing Society of India (RWSI), Western Region, during its meeting with the airport management. Minutes of one such meeting (available with MiD DAY) clearly state the need for a lounge catering to the crew and passengers of flights to and from Juhu aerodrome. This record also carries the noting of Juhu aerodrome management, who accepted that no such facilities are available and by putting a portakabin (portable building) in front of the existing canteen, a temporary arrangement can be made to fulfil the purpose. This temporary measure is yet to be established.
"It is true that we have raised the issue with the airport management. They plan to establish a temporary setup that would be functional in a few days," said Captain Uday Gelli, president, RWSI, Western Region. MiD DAY on January 4 reported ('Juhu airport is a sitting duck') about the poor infrastructure and weak security at the aerodrome, which consequently is also vulnerable to terror plots.
The other side
"In the master plan, we have a provision for a passenger terminal and lounge. We expect funds to be sanctioned in April and after that we can at least provide a portakabin facility, and later a permanent structure," said M Yadgiri, director, Juhu airport.
Area (in acres) of the aerodrome
Average number of daily flight operations (can go up to 145 in peak season)