Mysuru Airport will not go to IAF: Pratap Simha

Mysuru Airport will not go to IAF: Pratap Simha

Sources said that the air force is keen to move its helicopter training facility from Yelahanka

Mysuru Airport at Mandakalli. Credit: DH File Photo

Lok Sabha MP Pratap Simha has said that Mysuru Airport will not be handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) for setting up its Helicopter Training Centre.

The MP, who represents Mysore-Kodagu, clarified that the MoU signed during the previous coalition government with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) stands cancelled for the time being.

Holding a meeting with AAI representatives on Monday in Kolkata, Simha raised objections against using the airport as a military airbase, saying it will cripple the city’s future growth. 

“The discussions were in follow up to my previous talks about the matter with former civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri. During Monday’s discussion, the ramifications of a handover were discussed with AAI officials. The AAI has agreed [to cancel the handover],” Simha said.

The MP pointed out that giving the airport to the military will not only hobble domestic and future international flights into the cultural capital of the state but also have a debilitating effect on a city’s standing as a tourism hub.

“Mysuru accommodates large numbers of tourists every year, plus it is a junction for traffic from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is also an entry point for tourism into Kodagu. I am confident that it will become the go-to-destination in Karnataka. Any conversion of the airport for military activities will hinder attempts to bring international services to the airport,” he explained.

“For one, conversion of the airport into a military airbase means it will come under the MoD. This will result in all sorts of permissions being required to operate civilian flights from the airport,” he added.

He stated that other airports handed over to the MoD in other parts of the country such as Bagdogra and Guwahati had affected the growth of these airports.

While the IAF did not respond to a request for comment on the matter, sources said that the air force is keen to move its helicopter training facility from Yelahanka owing to difficulties arising from the second runway at Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL).

The Mysuru airport is currently situated on 507 acres of land. Simha said the state government is in the process of giving an additional 114 acres for expansion but a further 126 acres is needed to expand the runway. 

“Over Rs 1,500 cr is required from the Centre for expansion, including Rs 435 cr to build an underpass for NH 766, allowing us to expand the runway to accommodate Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s,” Simha said. He added that expansion plans also include a cargo terminal.

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