Maximise benefits of existing airports, says experts

Maximise benefits of existing airports, says experts

Representative image. Credit: iStock

Why plan for another airport, when the HAL, Hassan and Mysuru Airports lie either idle or under-utilised? This is the query posed by aviation analysts convinced that a new airport would be too costly in terms of land and environment while not guaranteeing proportional benefits.

To develop a new airport complete with runways, terminals, air traffic control and other allied infrastructure, the land required would be massive. “Unlike Devanahalli, which had plenty of dry land for a 4,000-acre airport, the land along the Mysuru Road corridor is fertile,” notes urban mobility analyst, Sanjeev Dyamannavar.

The Mysuru and Hassan airports are within 100-150 kms of the location proposed for a new airport. “Besides, the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway is being upgraded bypassing the towns. This will drastically reduce travel time to the existing airports.”

In the future, introduction of a high-speed rail link between Bengaluru and Mysuru will boost the connectivity to the Hassan, Mysuru and Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), Dyamannavar notes. “The government needs to prioritise. The industry should look at minimising investment and maximising utilisation.”

Located within the city, the HAL Airport currently does not handle commercial flights. A concession agreement signed in 2004 between the State government, Civil Aviation Ministry and the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) prohibits commercial flights at any airport within a radius of 150 kms from KIA.

But this restriction will be in force only for 25 years from the opening of KIA. Launched in May 2008, the international airport has already completed 12 years. Besides, talks have been in progress to operationalise the HAL Airport at least for short-haul flights.

In the long run, HAL Airport could eventually handle a part of the domestic air traffic now heading to KIA. “For instance, flights in the early morning and evening slots between Bengaluru and Chennai, Huballi and Hyderabad could operate from the HAL Airport.” This could partly account for the increased passenger load projected for KIA.