New Hyderabad airport may begin operations next week

March 15th, 2008 - 5:22 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Hyderabad, March 15 (IANS) The city’s new international airport, which was formally inaugurated Friday evening, is expected to commence operations next week. The new date for starting operations is yet to be announced but sources in GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) told IANS that the facility would commence operations next week.

The new airport at Shamshabad, about 30 km from the city centre, was scheduled to commence commercial operations in the early hours Sunday.

As the airport is ready in all respects, the developers fear that a delay could result in huge losses for them.

“The delay of each day will result in losses because all contracts have been awarded and various service providers are ready. The delay is not going to be beyond eight days,” said sources in the joint venture.

GMR issued a statement late Friday: “The international airport was ready in all respects but some airlines approached the ministry seeking more time to begin operations from Shamshabad. Acceding to their request, the ministry has advised us to begin operations in a few days.”

According to sources, only the state-owned Indian Airlines approached the ministry seeking six months time to shift their operations from the existing airport at Begumpet. The ministry agreed to delay the opening only by a few days. All other airlines are ready to shift their operations.

The move came in the backdrop of recent strike by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) employees against closure of the existing airports in Hyderabad and Bangalore and the report by a parliamentary committee urging the government not to close the two airports even after the new greenfield airports begin operation.

Minutes after United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the world-class facility, the civil aviation ministry in Delhi announced that the airport opening was being delayed by a few days.

India’s first greenfield airport, built in public-private partnership, was inaugurated at a glittering ceremony in the presence of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, union Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel and some other central ministers.

Nobody at the function had anticipated this development but the information regarding the delay from the ministry has reportedly come as an embarrassment for the Congress president and the civil aviation minister.

It was earlier announced that the airport would commence commercial operations at 0001 hrs March 16 and the proposal received formal approval from the ministry.

Lufthansa’s flight from Frankfurt was to be the first to land at the new airport at 0025 hrs and the same flight was scheduled to take off at 0225 hrs.

The airport, which promises world-class experience to the passengers, was completed six months ahead of schedule. It is being seen as a model for public-private partnership in infrastructure projects.

Several leading global companies, which are all set to render their services at the facility, will suffer losses due to the delay in launching commercial operations.

Reliance industries is running fuel farm operations while the ground handling is by Menzies Aviation & Bobba, Singapore Airport Terminal Services, Indian Airlines and Air India. The cargo operation will be handled by Menzies plc, UK, flight catering by LSG Sky Chef, Germany, and Sky Gourmet, India.

The Rs.25 billion airport with the longest run-way in Southeast Asia has been built by GHIAL, a joint venture in which GMR Infrastructure Limited holds 63 percent, Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad 11 percent, Airports Authority of India 13 percent and the Andhra Pradesh government 13 percent.

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