BIAL will have a say in HAL airport reopening

BIAL will have a say in HAL airport reopening

The House Committee in its report tabled in the Legislature on Monday recommended to the Government to reopen the HAL airport for short distance flights and regional flights.

The official told Deccan Herald that the recommendation of the committee on the HAL airport was in line with the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Transport, Tourism and Culture headed by Sitaram Yechury in 2008 and will have to involve the Centre and the State Governments and the airport promoter.

“The panel has only reflected the popular sentiment. While the greenfield airport policy was supported by the State Government, the prerogative of reopening the HAL airport is in the domain of the Centre, provided the Defence Ministry that owns the HAL airport and the promoters/operator of the BIAL have no objection” the source said.

However, for this to materialise, the State government has to accept the recommendations of the JHC, either in part or in toto.

Then the State government has to write to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Civil Aviation for initiating fresh negotiations on the reopening of HAL airport.

This, the source said, can move forward only if the operator of BIAL has no objection to any possible amendment in the Concession Agreement (CA) that has granted the rights and immunities to the commercial partner (BIAL) by the sovereign (Government of India).

“The CA has clearly mentioned the closure of the HAL airport and not allowing any domestic (except for Mysore and Hassan) or international airport to be developed in an aerial distance of 150 kms of BIAL. So, all parties to the agreement have to renegotiate the CA,” the sources added.

Panel report on the airport        

-  The policy of the Centre in signing the CA with BIAL to close down the HAL airport is inconsistent  with its own policy in other sectors. Interestingly, the policy of the Government of India on airport infrastructure in 1997 stated that no greenfield airport would normally be allowed within an aerial distance of 150 km of an existing/functional airport. BIAL has been established in violation of its own policy by the Centre.

-  Notice inviting tender for establishing a new greenfield airport in Bangalore did not contain any clause about closure of HAL airport. Having allowed an airport within 150 km of an existing one (HAL), a passenger sharing formula should have been evolved.

-  The Airports Authority of India (AAI) that has a 13 per cent stake in BIAL is a leading airport infrastructure provider and should have a better say in the modernisation process of airports in the country.

-  Any future greenfield airport must be done under the management of the AAI. Joint Venture (JV) can also be formulated, but the AAI must have a majority hold in the company, with the management control in its authority.

BIAL to act on panel’s recommendations

The BIAL on Tuesday said it will certainly review the report of the Joint Legislative Committee and implement its recommendations to the extent possible, but it refuted the statement of the committee on it (BIAL) being unresponsive.

“The BIAL is yet to receive the report of the Joint House Committee that was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Monday. The BIAL's management has been in constant dialogue with the panel since the time of its inception. The BIAL is further committed to the next phase of expansion of the airport in line with traffic growth,” the BIAL stated in a press release. It said, since the opening of the new airport, BIAL has continuously improved its facilities.

DH News Service