HAL, BIAL wage war over airport

HAL, BIAL wage war over airport
Anshul Dhamija | TNN
March 04, 2008

Bangalore: Should HAL airport be closed? That simple question evoked a major war of words on Tuesday between representatives of HAL, Bangalore International Airport Ltd and industry leaders at a seminar organized by the Centre for Public Policy of the IIM-B. And the battle lasted for almost three hours.
BIAL CEO Albert Brunner was outraged at the idea of allowing HAL airport to continue operations after the airport opens on March 28. His contention: “You cannot make a contract and thereafter debate it.” He said four Union ministries, the state government and the BIAL consortium had signed the contract. “India’s credibility will be at stake. How will you get shareholders to invest in the future?’’ he asked.
HAL: No, HAL airport should not be closed. A minimal usage can happen without hurting BIAL.
BIAL: Bangalore will need a second airport only when passenger traffic crosses 40 million, which will happen in 15 years. Then too, HAL cannot be the second airport.
Industry: Let HAL handle 30% of passenger traffic for five years, after which both airports can compete with each other.
HAL and the industry questioned whether BIAL could handle the city’s air traffic growth. Since 2003, the city has been witnessing a 33% compound annual growth rate, with traffic doubling every three years. “BIAL is underestimating the demand,’’ said Devesh R Agarwal, CEO, Infomart, a member of the Bangalore Chamber of Industry & Commerce.
“How will BIAL handle 480 movements a day when it controls only 40% of the airspace towards the north and north-east region, with the Yelahanka ATC controlling the western region and HAL controlling the whole of the southern region?’’ asked S R Iyer, DGM, Aerodrome Operations, HAL.
BIAL is expected to handle 480 movements a day for the summer season which could go well over 550 movements come the winter season.
According to Iyer, the Mumbai airport, which controls the entire airspace over the city and handles close to 600 movements a day, often has over 20 aircraft waiting in queue. “The aircraft in queue at Nos. 12 and 13 have to hover around for 45 minutes before getting landing clearance,’’ added Iyer.
But Brunner shot back: “BIAL has more parking bays than HAL and that would ensure no flight delays. BIAL is planning talks with the defence ministry in order to have a single ATC that will control the airspace for both BIAL and the Yelahanka airbases.”
Pay more as user fee
Passengers travelling from the new airport will have to fork out more airport fee than thought earlier. They will have to pay Rs 983 on domestic travel (earlier user development fee Rs 675) and Rs 1,298 on international travel (earlier user fee Rs 955). This is because the new fee includes other taxes and air charges that airlines levy. The breakup: a passenger service fee of Rs 225 that is charged at all airports across the country plus user fee of Rs 675 (on domestic flights) and 12.24% service tax. Similarly, Rs 955 (on international flights) plus passenger service fee of Rs 225 and 12.24% service tax.
“The civil aviation ministry has asked us to revise UDF; a decision is expected by week-end,” said Brunner. As announced earlier, BIAL, beginning March 30, will charge an introductory UDF for two months of Rs 240 plus taxes for domestic travel and Rs 520 plus taxes for international travel.
Flights may have to circle for 45 mins before landing as BIAL controls only 40% of the city airspace
HAL to lose Rs 600 crore in revenue annually, once airport shuts down
If BIAL reduces UDF, it will increase landing and parking charges by 20%

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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