Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Jamnagar airport has been designated as an international airport for a ten-day period to facilitate the arrival of global luminaries, including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Rihanna, Ivanka Trump, and several former Prime Ministers. This exclusive status has been granted in preparation for the three-day pre-wedding celebration of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant, commencing on March 1.

According to an official from the airport, the international flights will be welcomed between February 25 and March 5. The Union government’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Home Affairs have collaborated to establish a Custom, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) facility at the airport to ensure seamless processing.

Jamnagar, primarily a defense airport with existing permissions for commercial flights, has augmented its facilities for the upcoming grand affair. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has constructed a passenger terminal building, while the Indian Air Force (IAF) has granted access to its sensitive “technical” area, allowing accommodation for up to three aircraft simultaneously.

Under the condition of anonymity, an airport official revealed that the technical area can host three aircraft, while the civilian section can accommodate six small aircraft like Falcon-200s or three larger ones such as Airbus A320s. On the anticipated day of the festivities, a total of 140 aircraft movements (arrivals and departures) are expected, a stark increase from the typical six movements the airport handles.

The guest list includes prominent figures such as Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Saudi Aramco’s chairperson Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Disney CEO Bob Iger, BlackRock Chairman Larry Fink, and Ivanka Trump. Dignitaries like Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are also expected. Notable Indian celebrities, including Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Shah Rukh Khan, M.S. Dhoni, and Sania Nehwal, are set to grace the occasion.

In anticipation of the influx of guests, the AAI has expanded its passenger building from 475 sq.m to 900 sq.m, effectively doubling its capacity to accommodate nearly 360 passengers during peak hours. This expansion was expedited to meet the demands of the event.

Furthermore, there has been a significant augmentation of manpower in various sectors. Housekeeping staff has increased from 16 to 51, security personnel deployed by the State government has doubled from 35 to 70, and ground handling agencies have increased their staff strength from 65 to 125. The Indian Air Force has also bolstered its presence at the Air Traffic Control tower.

Additional preparations include the renovation of airport toilets and the installation of new artworks. Apart from private jets ferrying guests, Air India Express, Star Air, and SpiceJet are actively contributing to the logistics. Cargo flights, including one operated by SpiceJet on February 26, have transported international foods to the venue. Four cargo flights are scheduled during the week-long period.

Post the event’s peak on Friday, March 4, the airport is expected to experience a significant departure surge as guests conclude their participation. However, regular commercial passenger flights will continue unaffected throughout this period.