Thursday, May 29, 2008

HAL airport still has its uses

HAL airport still has its uses
Anshul Dhamija | TNN

Bangalore: Now, what’s happening to the HAL Airport? Well, it will take another 60 days to know its actual flight path.
Sources close to HAL’s top management said HAL was playing a waitand-watch game to see whether there could be any chance for commercial operations to restart.
Earlier in an interview to TOI, civil aviation minister Praful Patel had said: “The ministry is not happy with having only one airport. I would have preferred to keep both airports open. We’re trying to find a way out.’’
But aviation sources said: “If HAL does not get a second chance, it has multiple options before it.’’
Top on the list would be: give it a complete makeover, to turn it into a key defence establishment. Other than that HAL could use its base to operate helicopter services related to regional tourism, medical tourism and inter-city services.
“These are exciting options before HAL, from which a lot of revenue could be generated,’’said sources. The airport operation of HAL used to rake in Rs 700 crore annually.
Also, HAL would look to strengthen its flight training school by making Bangalore a major hub to train and teach and breed pilots. With the government turning ‘swadeshi’ and setting a deadline of 2010 after which airlines would have to do away with the services of foreign pilots, HAL would greatly benefit in training a number of young Indian pilots who go abroad to learn flying.
Not to mention HAL’s plans for operating an MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul facility). But sources indicate that as airlines would prefer having an MRO facility at their terminating destination, it is likely that they would prefer an MRO at the new Bengaluru International Airport.
Barely a quarter ago, there was talk about the possibility of HAL converting its terminal into a mall. However security concerns over having a mall in close proximity to a defence base, have put the plans on the backburner.


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