Bengaluru: A decade after commercial flights moved from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) airport to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) operated by Bengaluru International Airport Ltd (BIAL), the defence public sector behemoth has set the ball rolling to re-open the old airport for civilian jetliners on a profit-sharing basis.
The HAL airport was shut down in 2008 in the wake of a concessional agreement between the ministry of civil aviation and BIAL that no commercial airport would function within a radius of 150 km from the Greenfield airfield for a period of 25 years. HAL airport currently handles military aircraft and test flights besides chartered and VIP jets.
On Friday, Mr V Madhavan, Chairman and Managing Director, HAL, said: “We want the airport re-opened, and we have initiated talks with BIAL. So far, we have not reached any agreement , but some of the points discussed include the remuneration HAL will receive. The airport will be leased out and HAL will continue to operate the air traffic control (ATC)," but declined to spell out whether the old airport would be used only for domestic flights.
Mr Madhavan said reopening of the old airport for commercial flights would not affect flight tests of military aircraft by the Indian Air Force (IAF)'s Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) and DRDO's Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS). "We own the airspace around the airport, and will continue to operate the ATC. One of the clauses during discussions is about this, and so far we see there will be no problems with testing of defence aircraft," he added.
Reopening of the old airport would mean a revisit of the concessional agreement signed between BIAL and ministry of civil aviation.