New Delhi: The saga of Bangalore's HAL, or the 'old,' airport continues with new airport developer, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), turning down the central government's request to allow operations at the HAL airport to continue. The ministry of civil aviation had sought a meeting with BIAL at the behest of the Karnataka High Court, which had asked the government to explore the possibility of keeping the old airport open for commercial operations in the course of a public interest litigation hearing.
The Karnataka HC, though refusing to intervene in the matter, had asked the central government to explore various possibilities. The new airport is now due to open for operations sometime at the end of this month.
"They are not agreeable to the proposition," said civil aviation secretary, Ashok Chawla, after a meeting with BIAL. At their last meeting on 29 April, the ministry had proposed that the old Bangalore airport be allowed to offer services for smaller aircraft with a capacity of 80 seats and less.
As for the capacity of the new airport at Devanahalli to handle the growth in traffic, Chawla said a scientific assessment of the new airport's capabilities would be done soon. The peculiar situation faced by the government and the public at large is that even as BIAL has projected a rise in passenger traffic numbers to 10.1 million by 2010, other estimates suggest that this rise in traffic would occur in the period 2007-08 itself.
Chawla also said the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) had given an assurance that all the licensing formalities for the new airport would be completed in 2-3 days.
Meanwhile, BIAL has estimated a loss of Rs40 crore for itself, resulting from the postponement of its scheduled launch in March. It said that the delay may affect the expansion plans of over a dozen-odd international as well as domestic and cargo carriers who were planning to introduce additional flights from the city.