A decade after commercial flights moved from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) airport to Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), authorities are in talks with Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) to reopen the airport for commercial operations.
The HAL airport was shut down in 2008 in the wake of a concessional agreement between the ministry of civil aviation and BIAL that no commercial airport would function within a radius of 150 km from the Greenfield airfield(KIA) for a period of 25 years.
HAL airport currently handles military aircraft and test flights besides chartered and VIP jets.
Managing Director and chairman of HAL, Mr. V Madhavan, has initiated talks with BIAL to reopen the airport. HAL plans to lease it out to a private bidder but will continue to operate the Air Traffic Control.
He also said that reopening of the old airport for commercial flights would not affect flight tests of military aircraft by the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) and DRDO’s Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS).
Reopening of the old airport would mean a revisit of the concessional agreement signed between BIAL and ministry of civil aviation.
When it closed, HAL airport had reported revenue of around ₹150 crore. It is small in HAL’s overall current revenue of around ₹18,000 crore which mainly comes from selling fighters, transport planes and helicopters to the Air Force.
KIA started operating in 2008 at Devanahalli, about 40 km north of the city’s old central hub. It is the country’s third busiest after Delhi and Mumbai’s airports. In almost ten years, its annual passenger traffic has doubled to 25 million during 2017, about 19% being regional or short-haul travellers.