Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No flying from old Bangalore airport, says BIAL

The Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL), the developer of Bangalore's new greenfield airport, has told the central government that it is not feasible to operate the new airport if the existing one remains functional.

Aviation Secretary Ashok Chawla said this to reporters Monday after holding talks with BIAL officials on some of the contentious issues like operations from the existing airport and the concessions agreement.

The Supreme Court had asked the BIAL to consider allowing smaller aircraft to use the existing airport at Bangalore. This, the court said, would help citizens, who might face problems reaching the new airport 40 km away from the city.

“The BIAL officials have told us that they would meet the Election Commission this month to ensure that they start their air operations from the new airport by the month end," Chawla said.

At present, elections to the Karnataka state assembly are taking place, binding all political parties and the state administration to the model code of conduct. Ther polls get over this month-end.

Earlier, the government conveyed the decision of the apex court to the BIAL. But BIAL maintained that it was not feasible for it to operate the new airport along with the existing airport. The government also said the company would have to compromise on the concession agreement.

According to the agreement, all commercial aviation activities at the existing airport should be ended once the new airport becomes functional.

The concession agreement allows BIAL to charge an airport user fee of Rs.675 on domestic travellers and Rs.955 on international travellers. But user groups have questioned this levy and filed a public interest litigation (PIL) with the Karnataka High Court.

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