Bengaluru: Bengaluru fought literally, when the HAL airport was closed for commercial operations after the opening of the Kempe Gowda International Airport. Six years after the closure, the dream of reopening the HAL airport has once again taken wing.
If talks in the union government are to be believed, there have been suggestions to hold a meeting of stakeholders who manage the airspace over Bengaluru – HAL, Yelahanka Air Force Station and the KGI Airport. All three stakeholders have an integrated space management plan in place and this has caught the attention of the babus in New Delhi. In fact they have suggested the restarting of commercial operations of low-cost airlines from HAL, without hampering the revenue of the KGI Airport.
Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mr G M Siddeshwara, told Deccan Chronicle that there have been talks of reopening the HAL airport for short-haul flights, but it looks improbable at this point of time. “The decision makers in the past have put objections around a number of important matters including commercial aircraft operations in Bengaluru. We need to tackle these hindrances before we take any decision. After the post budget session, we could think in this direction,” the minister said, pointing to the agreement with the Greenfield airports which specifies that no other airport within the radius of 150 km, could operate commercial flights.
Mr Siddeshwara pointed out that the same clause had also made it difficult for the Bidar airport to become operational, as it is located 141 km from the Hyderabad Greenfield Airport. “It’s a matter of just 9 km but we are facing hurdles in getting the airport constructed. As far as HAL is concerned, no doubt it will boost air travel, but it’s under the control of the Defence Ministry. Talks regarding this will be taken up in the post budget session,” Mr Siddeshwara said. Officials from HAL confirmed that talks between the Defence PSU and Civil Aviation Ministry have taken place on the reopening of the Airport. “HAL airport has the infrastructure to handle short-haul flights and a capacity of handling 5 million passengers,” said an official from HAL.
HAL Airport though closed for over six years for commercial operations, still handles nearly 60 take offs and landings. Most of these flights are military and some are VIP flights.
“HAL airport can reduce the burden on airliners and on passengers too. The south bound flights are travelling 30 extra miles by flying over HAL to KGI airport, wasting precious fuel,’’ said an aviation expert from Bengaluru....