Bangalore airport launch by May-end
Wednesday, 30 April 2008, 14:38 Hrs
New Delhi: The new airport at Bangalore will become operational by the end of May with its private operator having to keep an option open for allowing smaller aircrafts to use the existing airport in the city, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel announced here Tuesday. Patel told reporters here after meeting representatives of Bangalore International Airport Limited (BAIL), the operators of the new airport, that the company was given options including allowing aircraft with less than 80 seats to operate out of the existing HAL airport in the tech hub. BIAL had earlier planned to start operations March 30, but the launch had been postponed till May 11 and now stands further delayed. According to its agreement with the government, all commercial aviation activities at the existing airport are to end once the new airport is functional. However, Airports Authority of India (AAI) workers have opposed that clause. The government has made it clear to the stake-holders that they would have to compromise on the concession agreement. The meeting of all stake-holders was held following an advice of the Karnataka High Court, which had asked the government and BIAL to re-look and re-negotiate the concessions agreement signed between them earlier. The court had also asked them to explore the possibilities of allowing flights to operate from the existing airport. The minister said there were contractual obligations, besides legal issues and other problems involved, which the government wanted to sort out to avoid further complications. Other issues like levy of user development fee by the new airport were also discussed in the meeting, civil aviation ministry officials said. The concession agreement with the ministry allows BIAL to charge the airport user fee of 675 on domestic travellers and 955 on international travellers. But user groups have questioned this levy and filed a public interest litigation (PIL) against it in the high court. According to the officials, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will issue a licence to the airport only after the stake-holders reach a decision on the issue.