Hyderabad: The old airport at Begumpet is in the eye of a storm following a reported plan by the Indian Air Force to take control of it. The Airports Authority staff, Associations and Guilds of AAI, Southern region Chennai, AA Employees union and other associates, which got a wind of the development, lodged a strong protest. They requested the Centre, ministry of civil aviation, Union defence ministry, Airports Authority of India and the Telangana government not to hand over the airport to IAF.
Airport employees became suspicious when a group of senior IAF officials had inspected the Begumpet airport runway, periphery road, communication tower last month and certain developments took place in the capital on the issue subsequently. While the AAI staff lodged a protest over attempts to handover the airport to air force, IAF authorities refused to comment.
“It is reliably understood that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has taken an unilateral decision to handover the land and assets of AAI at Begumpet airport to IAF for reasons best known to them. The action is similar to closing down of commercial operations here," S.R. Santhanam, president, All India Airports Authority Employees Union (AAEU) told this newspaper here on Tuesday.
Mr Santhanam said the employees JAC petitioned to all those concerned in New Delhi after the visit of IAF officers last month and subsequent developments in Delhi.
“We have information that airport is being handed over to IAF. This will deprive the state of a good airport in the heart of the city. The whole thing is kept a secret. If supersonic defence aircrafts operate from here, it will create problem for people. We requested the Central government to drop such a move and resume commercial operations again,” he said. About 20 acres of the airport land, out of 650 acres, is now in possession of the IAF.
“IAF has airports at Dundigal, Hakimpet and Bidar. We request it not to take control of the airport. The very closure of the commercial operations is violation of law. It displaces staff and affects many families working for AAI,” he added.