Monday, May 15, 2017

‘Reopen HAL airport for local flights’

For those who fancied flying to Mysuru from Bengaluru, but gave up on the idea because they had to spend nearly as much time getting to the airport in Bengaluru, there could be good news. In yet another attempt at restarting commercial operations at the HAL airport, the State government has sought the Centre’s nod to allow short-haul flights within Karnataka from here to facilitate tourism in the State.

Priyank Kharge, Tourism Minister, placed the proposal before the Central Aviation Ministry recently, to give a push to regional connectivity for tourism. There have been no commercial operations at the HAL airport since 2008 and the 700 acre facility is now primarily used for landing VVIP, VIP and chartered flights, and for flight testing.

“At present, it is not feasible for people to fly from the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) to, say, Mysuru because they can reach the destination by road within three hours and will take a lot of time to get to the KIA,” Mr. Kharge said.

However, an agreement between the Bangalore International Airport Ltd. (BIAL) and the Civil Aviation Ministry prevents the functioning of a civil airport within a 150 km radius of KIA, a fact the State government is fully aware of. “The KIA will lose passengers if domestic operations are shifted to the HAL airport. That is why we are asking for the Centre to at least allow flights operating within Karnataka from HAL Airport,” said Mr. Kharge.

Meanwhile, officials at HAL said the airport was ready to commence operations anytime. HAL too has, only recently, appealed to the Civil Aviation Ministry to include the airport under the regional connectivity plan.
15/05/17 The Hindu