New Hyderabad airport to commence operations Sunday

March 20th, 2008 - 6:32 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Hyderabad, March 20 (IANS) The new Hyderabad international airport will commence commercial operations from Sunday, its developers announced Thursday. A week after the airport was formally inaugurated and the scheduled commercial launch was postponed at the last minute, the airport developers received a nod from the civil aviation ministry to start operations from 0001 hours March 23.

“This is in pursuance of clause 5.5 of the Concession Agreement signed between the Government of India and GHIAL on December 20, 2004,” said a statement by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL), which has built the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad, about 30 km from here.

The statement also said that on commissioning of the new airport, the existing airport at Begumpet in the heart of the city, will be shut down for civil aviation operations.

General aviation services (other than those relating to commercial aircraft, charter flights, aircraft hired or operated under commercial arrangements) may continue to be provided at the existing airport, it said.

The new airport was inaugurated by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi March 14 and the commercial operations were to start from 0001 hrs March 16.

Minutes after the formal inauguration, the ministry announced in New Delhi that the opening was delayed by a few days.

The move came in the backdrop of reported objections by low-cost airlines over the higher ground handling charges at the new airport and the criticism over the poor road connectivity between Shamshabad and the city.

Last week, Airports Authority of India (AAI) employees had gone on strike protesting the closure of the existing airports in Hyderabad and Bangalore in favour of new ones.

India’s first greenfield airport built in public-private partnership was completed six months ahead of the schedule. It is being seen as a model for public-private partnership in infrastructure projects.

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, AAI 13 percent and the Andhra Pradesh government 13 percent.

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