Monday, October 05, 2020

Reopening HAL Airport viable, but is BIAL keen?

Closed for commercial operations since May 2008, the city’s HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) airport could reopen for short-haul flights if the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) takes up an offer by the state government to operate it. 
But the big question remains: Is BIAL interested? Currently operating the Kempegowda International Airport, BIAL has declined to comment on the matter. Aviation experts indicated that BIAL may not be keen since the completion of the second runway and the second terminal (T2) would boost KIA’s capacity to handle rising passenger numbers for another 10-15 years.
 The state Cabinet has decided to extend the concession agreement with BIAL for 30 more years by adding a clause that will allow the company to operate the HAL Airport. However, BIAL will have to exempt itself from the clause that disallows any other airport within a 150- km radius around KIA for 25 years. BIAL and HAL were in talks to restart the old airport, but could not reach a revenue-sharing agreement. 
“This was much before the second runway was commissioned. With the infrastructure getting ready to upgrade capacities, BIAL may not be keen now,” a top Airports Authority of India (AAI) official, earlier attached to the HAL Airport, told DH. The tarmac is owned by HAL but the terminal belongs to AAI. “AAI and BIAL should first agree on the operational issues. Besides revenue-sharing, HAL should also agree to let its tarmac be used for flight landings and take-offs,” the official explained. 
 But will the high traffic on Old Airport Road and dense population clusters in close proximity affect safe flight operations at HAL Airport? Aviation experts felt this would not be an issue as the airport has been handling fighter jet test flights and VIP flights for years. Before its closure for commercial flights, the airport had handled even wide-bodied aircraft. “The ground-handling process is currently disbanded, but it can be recreated within a month." 
 05/10/20 Rasheed Kappan/Deccan Herald
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