Monday, June 11, 2007

Bangalore HAL airport to continue - Kumarswamy

The K'taka CM has said he will look into continuing operations at the HAL airport.
This is the final nail in the coffin of all those speculators who expected Devanhalli to be the next airport road. Now with high interest rates, strong rupee and already inflated prices, it should be interesting to see how low the prices go in an area with water and electricity woes through out the year. Ofcourse the CM has his hidden agenda to drive speculators towards Bidadi and Ramnagaram, his assembly constituency.

Eight million passengers a year. At an airport around 35 km from the City that’s already battling burgeoning traffic and poor road connectivity. The existing HAL airport is set to close down once the new greenfield airport at Devanahalli starts operations in April 2008. More importantly, with no transition period.
According to aviation industry experts and professionals, the situation warrants two airports in Bangalore, at least till the traffic and facilities are streamlined in the new airport and connectivity issue is addressed. Just 10 months ahead of the new airport, this could be a belated move. But it’s still worth a shot, according to passengers and experts.
Warwick Brady, Chief Operating Officer, Air Deccan, says the airline is for retaining the existing HAL airport for short-haul flights. “With the skyrocketing demand for air travel, the Devanahalli airport operators will more than achieve the projected growth in passenger traffic by 2010. So there is no reason for the HAL airport to be considered a competition,” he says.
BIAL agreement
According to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry’s agreement with Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), no new or existing airport will be permitted to operate as a domestic or international airport within 150 kilometres. The Government is also “committed to equal treatment and non-discrimination of all international airports and to renew the bilateral agreement constantly.”
“HAL had never wanted to close its airport. But the then government decided to go by the demand of the consortium. BIAL was worried that HAL would compete with it and take away its business,” points out C G Krishnadas Nair, former Chairman, HAL.
HAL officials, however, have also maintained that the airport is not top priority in the company’s scheme and that it’s pursuing its own plans, including Maintenance, Repair and Overhauling (MRO) facilities with global players.
A group of domestic carriers had last year conveyed to the State Government the need to retain civil operations in HAL airport.
It was also pointed out that short routes within the State would be hit, when operated from an international airport that has its own stringent security system.
“Road commuters will be the first to feel the heat. It doesn’t make sense to travel for two hours to the airport to catch a 30-minute flight,” says Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry President R C Purohit.
He adds that some flights should be retained at the HAL airport, at least till a rail link or a dedicated road is established between the City and Devanahalli.
HAL AIRPORT FACTFILE
* The airport is a Government of India aerodrome
* Third busiest airport, after Mumbai and Delhi
* Handles 300 movements everyday
* Handles six million passengers every year
* 266 per cent increase in traffic volume since 2000
* 11 international and 10 domestic carriers operate from here
* Civil aircraft movement accounts for 80 per cent of traffic
(Sourced from The Plane, a magazine published by HAL)
REACTIONS
“Major cities including Mumbai and Delhi have two airports: one for domestic and the other for international flights. There is nothing new in what the IT companies have asked the Government. It goes without saying that the HAL airport has to be retained, because it makes no sense in shutting an operational airport down.
— Indru Wadhwani,
CEO, Mallya Hospital
“I won’t be travelling for two hours to Devanahalli to catch a short flight to Chennai, Kochi or Mangalore. A booming city like Bangalore needs two airports. But neither those who are making a noise against the closure of the HAL airport now nor the media had expressed apprehensions when the government signed the agreement with BIAL. Even now, the agreement could be revised if people pressurise the government. By 2010, the air traffic would not be less than 15 million (per year). The government can convince BIAL that it would get the business it wanted, but a second airport is a must considering the booming traffic.”
— C G Krishnadas Nair,
former Chairman, HAL
“Bangalore is growing at a tremendous pace and the new airport alone can’t cater to the passenger traffic in the coming years. Moreover, a huge investment has already been made into the infrastructure upgrades at the HAL airport. The prudent thing to do is let the HAL airport operate skeletal flights that don’t take more than an hour.”
— P K Mohankumar
General Manager, The Taj West End
“The HAL airport has to be retained. All big cities, including London and New York, have more than one airport. There are three advantages in having multiple airports. Firstly, there will be competition among airports and this, in turn, will ensure better services. Secondly, it helps in segregating air traffic as domestic and international. Thirdly, it gives travellers the option to go to the nearest airport.”
— Capt G R Gopinath,
MD, Deccan Aviation
“The HAL airport has to function for two years after the Devanahalli airport becomes operational, because link roads to the new airport are yet to be developed. At the same time, we need to take note that travelling to the HAL airport during peak traffic hours has become extremely stressful. Even with minimal international operations, the airport is congested. Also, BIAL has made huge investments and unless domestic flights are operated from Devanahalli, it won’t be commercially viable for the consortium. But I do agree that a growing city like ours needs two airports, one exclusively for domestic flights.”
— N R Mohanty,
former Chairman, HAL
“Since most of the IT companies are located in the southern parts of the City, the drive to Devanahalli through heavy traffic is going to be exhausting. This, in turn, will badly affect the employees’ performance. It makes sense to retain the HAL airport and use it exclusively for domestic flights of short duration. We can link the new airport with the HAL airport either through Metro or a tunnel road, so that international travellers who want to board domestic flights can travel hassle-free.”
— Nanda Kumar,
Chief Finance Officer, Honeywell Technology
“What the IT captains have said makes a lot of sense. Imagine a person living in J P Nagar having to travel one and a half hours to reach the new airport, all to take a flight to Chennai. Of course, passengers arriving on international flights to Devanahalli and wanting to take a domestic flight, say, to Mangalore will have to travel a bit to reach the HAL airport. But that’s not reason enough to close the airport down.”
““Personally, I’m of the view that the HAL airport should function till road and rail facilities are provided from the City to Devanahalli. I will discuss the issue with the Union Civil Aviation Minister. It has to be seen whether the agreement (with BIAL) could be reviewed or not. I will do my best.”
— H D Kumaraswamy,
Chief Minister

posted by The Bangalorean @ 6/10/2007 12:51:00 PM 0 comments links to this post
HAL airport: the last-ditch effort

HAL airport: the last-ditch effort
DH News Service, Bangalore:

The onus on retaining civil aviation operations at the HAL airport, even after the new international airport in Devanahalli takes off in April 2008, is back on the State government. Though Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has assured a look-in on the proposal, it remains to be seen whether a revision of the agreement between Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) and the Union Ministry for Civil Aviation is possible at this juncture or not.
The agreement says that no airport would be permitted to operate within 150 km from the Devanahalli airport. While government sources say that the chances of a revision are remote, there is a contention that it all depends on how Bangalore’s air passengers mount pressure on the government.
With around 300 movements per day and a passenger volume of six million per year, the HAL airport is already bursting at its seams. However, what the experts point out in favour of retaining the airport — the third busiest in India — is its potential to serve as a supplementary airport, operating domestic flights.

Connectivity
Another issue raised by those who endorse the idea of two airports in the City, is the poor connectivity between the City and Devanahalli.
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has responded to the State’s concerns and is lining up overpasses and service roads on NH 7. However, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) itself is likely to take a year.
According to aviation experts, the Bangalore market offers enough room for two airports. And they point out that two airports also ensure competition to offer better services.
However, they are also concerned about the longevity of the space-strapped HAL airport, as well as the distance international travellers have to take to board connecting domestic flights at the HAL airport, even if the two-airport concept is adopted. The debate has just started.

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