Bangalore needs a second airport, already

With the completion of the 100-day mark of Bangalore's new international airport, the cry for a second airport in the city refuses to quieten. Joining the chorus is the Karnataka state government, which too feels that the demand for a second airport in the city is justified.

Karnataka's chief minister BS Yeddyurappa has said, ''Our legislators, industrialists, and experts want one more airport. We are in touch with the Centre. We want to retain Hindustan Airport."

Though it may look larger and more appealing that its predecessor, the new International Airport in Devanahalli just doesn't make the mark for Bangalore citizens, and the government is now again looking at reviving the old HAL airport, which was closed to traffic when the new airport became operational.

The Airports Authority of India's (AAI) report on the Bengaluru International Airport, or BIAL, says the new airport falls short of capacity, which is being cited as a reason by the state government to demand the use of the old airport for this year's Haj pilgrimage that will see 5,000 passengers transiting through the airport in a month. Reports suggest that HAL authorities had agreed to the arrangement, but BIAL officials struck it down.

The airport is 40 kilometres away from Bangalore's city centre, and is 70 kilometres from the 'electronic city' where the IT hub of Bangalore is housed. There was much opposition to the closing of the existing airport at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) which was within city limits. The concession agreement between BIAL and the central government does not allow any airport to operate civilian flights within the 150 km of the new airport.

Clearly, the people of Bangalore will continue their crusade to retain the HAL airport, a campaign that has already been on for over six months with no sign of waning. Some supporters include the city's top names, and petitioners have approached the court. As the legal battle wages at the Karnataka High Court, the government is now trying an alternative path.