Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bangalore airport to open on May 23

Bangalore airport to open on May 23

AAI team to be in charge of air traffic management

Madhumathi D.S.
Ashwini Phadnis

Bangalore/New Delhi, May 14 It is to be a May 23 take-off finally for the Bengaluru International Airport.

When it does, the Rs 2,500-crore greenfield at Devanahalli near here will be starting operations almost two months later than first planned – March 28. And the culmination of works that began in July 2005.

It will also be curtains for commercial flights by scheduled airlines at the nearly 50-year-old defence airport run by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

The operator company BIAL, already bitten twice over the airport opening date (AOD), however, is keeping the lid on the AOD and maintains that it is awaiting the formal word from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

The opening was postponed twice — from March 28 as the air traffic control system was not in place; and later from May 11 for political reasons as the three-phase Karnataka elections end on May 22.

Industry sources indicated that the Ministry has issued a Government notification that the new airport will begin functioning from May 23; the first departure will be just past midnight on May 23; the first landing will be four hours earlier at 8 p.m. on May 22.

BIAL is planning a low-key opening next week and may have a formal inauguration in the first week of June when a new State Government will be in place, it is learnt.

A well-placed aviation source closely linked with the BIAL operations said the thumbs-up has been received to begin operations at Devanahalli on the intervening midnight of May 22-23. In fact, the date was advanced from May 25 in the last two days.
Simulation training

The official familiar with the events said the Airports Authority of India had posted 60 officers on the site. Around 30-40 of them with training have moved in and are working round-the-clock in four shifts. They would be handling flights currently numbering 350-400 a day. Simulation training on the site has been completed in the past one month.

AAI will be in charge of air traffic management in Bangalore for the first time: this has been handled at the HAL airport by HAL’s own ATCs.

Airline sources also said BIAL has sounded them about the change-over.

The quick pace of developments this week after a two-month lull comes after the talks that BIAL brass had with the Ministry officials in New Delhi on May 12. The Ministry officials had then said the HAL airport would close for civil flights when BIAL opened towards the end of May and that BIAL’s mandatory licence to run the airport was on its way.


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