Existing airports in Bangalore, Hyderabad to be closed

February 26th, 2008 - 11:39 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has said Tuesday that the existing airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad will be closed once the new airports in these two cities become operational. Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh governments have undertaken various projects to provide connectivity to Devanahalli (Bangalore) and Shamshabad (Hyderabad) airports that are in the stage of completion, the minister said in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

“Commissioning of the new airports was in accordance with the provisions and agreements signed between the airport companies and the government,” said Patel. Both airports would start functioning from next month.

The government’s move to close down the existing airports has drawn flak from many quarters. The residents of Bangalore and Hyderabad are urging the government to use the existing airports besides the new greenfield ones.

The new Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Hyderabad has witnessed test flights and landings ahead of commercial operations planned for next month. It would formally be inaugurated March 14. The new airport at Bangalore is scheduled to take-off later next month.

The airline operators are sceptical about the proposed extra user charges, which the two airports have sought to clevy on the passengers once the operations start. Patel earlier this month hinted that he favoured additional user charges on passengers by the Bangalore and Hyderabad greenfield airports.

According to aviation ministry officials, charging a user development fee is part of the concession agreement for the development, construction, operation and maintenance of these two airports.

Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL), which is developing the new airport in Bangalore, has urged the central government to allow an additional levy of Rs.675 on outgoing domestic travellers and Rs.955 on international passengers. The Hyderabad airport too has made similar requests to the government.

The matter is under discussion with the aviation ministry.

The airline industry feels this would further hike airfares and set a precedent for other new airports coming up across the country.

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