Time to reopen HAL airport for short-haul flights: Tyagi

Five years after HAL airport was shut down for civil traffic, a top official of the aviation major has suggested reopening of the facility at least for short-haul flights.

HAL airport served as the City’s sole domestic and international airport for four decades before it was closed in 2008, paving the way for an international airport at Devanahalli.

“Nowhere in the world is an operational airport closed down when a new airport comes up. Cities take pride in their number of airports. London has four airports and New York has six,” Hindustan Aeronautics Limited chairperson R K Tyagi said at the Aero India show here on Thursday.

He said he had received assurance from Union Civil Aviation secretary K N Srivastava that the ministry would positively consider HAL’s request to reopen the airport for short-haul flights like Bangalore-Chennai.

When the new airport came up, it was decided to close down HAL airport, so that the new international airport can have 10 million passengers for their economic viability. As Bengaluru International Airport crossed 12-million passenger mark and is now targeting 17 million, it is the right time to reopen the HAL airport, Tyagi said.

Since HAL airport was shared by civilian and military traffic, there was severe space crunch at the facility and hence the new airport at Devanahalli. While the HAL Airport had a designed capacity of 3.6 million, it served 7.5 million passengers before its closure.

A government rule stipulating not to have two airports within a distance of 150 km, however, may come in the way of reopening of HAL airport. “A workable solution can be worked out before Aero India 2015 without violating the government rules,” Tyagi said.

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