Thursday, August 21, 2008

HAL airport may reopen to take burden off BIA

HAL airport may reopen to take burden off BIA
Anshul Dhamija | TNN

Bangalore: The probability of the old HAL airport being reopened for commercial operations is rising. Now, the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) is now pushing this idea. Top civil aviation ministry officials told TOI that the MoCA has held a series of discussions to reopen HAL airport, given that the new Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) is saturated.
“If needed, we, together with the other promoters of BIA, will relook at the concessions agreement,” said the official who requested anonymity. The MoCA, he said, has endorsed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) report on BIA, which states that the airport had reached full capacity the moment it opened. MoCA is also pushing BIA for an immediate capacity expansion.
In June, MoCA had designated a 4-member team from AAI to study the capacity issues at BIA. As per the report, a copy of which is with TOI, the terminal at BIA can only handle 9.78 million passengers as against the city’s reported passenger traffic of 10.12 million passengers in 2007-08.
The ministry is looking at re-opening HAL airport to all domestic operations — both long-haul and short-haul. A new terminal block at BIA would take anywhere between 18 and 24 months to build.
The AAI report had also gone on to state: “In view of the saturation of the passenger terminal, import cargo, apron and runway, it is recommended that the existing HAL Airport may be permitted to operate until the time of commissioning of proposed additional capacity at the new Bengaluru International Airport.”
The MoCA official said the ministry would put forth all these points before the Karnataka High Court on August 22. The high court is hearing a case regarding various issues pertaining to the new airport. Some reports have said that the promoters of BIA, the Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL), are willing to agree to keeping HAL open, provided there is a revenue-sharing agreement between the two airports. When TOI contacted BIAL, the company said keeping HAL open was unacceptable.
As per the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recommendation, an airport which has to handle passenger traffic of 10 million passengers should have a terminal size of 1,50,000 sqm. BIA has a terminal size of 71,310 sqm and handles more than 10.12 million passengers.


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