- Indira Gandhi International Airport has the longest runway in India, measuring 4,430 meters, increasing its capacity to handle up to 100 flights per hour.
- Rajiv Gandhi International Airport has a primary runway that measures about 4,260 meters and can accommodate Airbus A380 operations.
- INS Rajali, a naval air station in Arakkonam, has one runway that spans 4,103 meters, which is considered one of Asia’s longest military runways.
In recent years, India has become host to one of the world’s most rapidly expanding aviation markets, boasting various up-and-coming airlines and several airports across its lands. While the nation houses numerous big international airports, smaller regional and military airports can be found dotting India.
Although the type of aircraft operated differs according to the airport, different cities also present varying terrain conditions that influence the number and length of runways at each airport. Here’s a quick peek at some of the longest runways in India and the airports where they are located.
1 Indira Gandhi International Airport
Often referred to as the biggest airport in India and one of the world’s busiest airports, Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi probably does not come as a surprise for housing the longest runway in the country. Measuring 4,430 meters, runway 11/29 is the airport’s third, inaugurated on August 21st, 2008, and began round-the-clock operations by the end of October that year.
Photo: Akasa Air
Costing an estimated 10 billion Indian Rupees ($121.97 million), runway 11/29 has one of the world’s longest paved threshold displacements of 1,460 meters. Although this decreases the available landing length to only about 2,970 meters, it helps reduce the noise generated over nearby properties.
Runway 11/29 increased the airport’s capacity to handle up to 100 flights per hour. And in comparison to the airport’s other three runways, the newest and fourth runway, 11L/29R, has a length of 4,400 meters. Runway 10/28 spans about 3,810 meters, while runway 09/27 goes as far as 2,813 meters.
2 Rajiv Gandhi International Airport
Coming in closely at second place is runway 09R/27L at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport located near Hyderabad. This is the airport’s original and primary runway, which measures about 4,260 meters long enough to accommodate Airbus A380 operations. Interestingly, runway 09R/27L is paired with a much shorter secondary runway 09L/27R, measured at 3,707 meters.
Photo: WeChitra | Shutterstock.
Despite being much shorter, the secondary runway – which used to be a taxiway – can accommodate an Airbus A340 or Boeing 747. During a typical operational day at the airport, both runways can facilitate an unofficial ‘parallel’ runway configuration, though runway 09R/27L is mainly utilized on its own unless being maintained.
3 INS Rajali
Situated close to the city of Arakkonam, the Arakkonam Airport, better known as INS Rajali, is an air station operating under the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy. Although the initial plan for this airport was to have two runways, only one currently exists. There was also an idea to construct a subway under the runway, but fears of water logging during heavy rains disrupted such plans.
On the airport’s commissioning day of March 11th, 1992, the runway was still not fully ready as the original contractor walked off the job. After hiring a new contractor, the runway was finally finished four months later. Once completed, runway 06/24 spanned 4,103 meters and is said to be one of Asia’s longest military runways.
Runway 06/24 also has an elevation of 87 meters in consideration of the previously adjacent railway line. With such an elevation, any ongoing railway operations would not interfere with aircraft landings. However, this railway line has since been re-routed and shifted further west.
4 Kempegowda International Airport
Serving the city of Bangalore is Kempegowda International Airport, which is home to two runways in parallel configuration – runway 09L/29R as the North Runway and 09R/27L as the South Runway. However, it is worth noting that the latter of those only recently commenced operations in December 2019.
Both runways share the same dimensions, spanning 4,000 meters. During the aviation industry’s pandemic-related operational shutdown, Kempegowda International Airport took advantage of the time with little to no traffic to repair and strengthen the original runway, 09L/29R.
5 Sheikh ul Alam Airport
Rounding off this list of India’s top five longest runways is runway 13/31 at Sheikh ul Alam Airport, also known as Srinagar International Airport. As the lone runway at this airport, runway 13/31 spans 3,685 meters and has been equipped to handle instrument landing system approaches since February 2011. Over the past few years, the singular runway has also undergone multiple improvements and repairs.
Photo: GOUSSE Herve – MasterFilms via Airbus
However, an expansion is required at Srinagar Airport, as it is used extensively during the Hajj pilgrimage and as passenger traffic within the area increases. While a three-fold airport expansion plan was previously announced last year, it highlighted that the current runway 13/31 and its operational area would remain untouched. There was also no mention of the possibility of any additional runways for this airport.
If only commercial airports were considered for this list, Kempegowda International Airport would have replaced INS Rajali in third position, and Sheikh ul Alam Airport would have been in fourth. Moving into the fifth position would then be Chennai International Airport.
While the airport has two runways, making this list would have been its primary runway 07/25, which spans 3,658 meters. This primary runway outclasses Chennai Airport’s secondary runway, oriented 12/30, which is only 2,045 meters.
Have you ever been to any of these airports? Let us know in the comments below.