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Domestic airport in Hosur  for Bengalureans

Domestic airport in Hosur for Bengalureans

Highlights

• The airfield in Hosur is run by Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd
• Tamil Nadu has signed an agreement with Centre under UDAN
• Private airfield on Thally Road could be a better, cheaper option for E-Citizens
The airfield in Hosur is run by Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd (TAAL); (inset) an Airbus 320 of Vistara nea… Read More

Tamil Nadu has offered to open up its Hosur Air Station at Belagondapalli village, Thally Road for Bengalureans. Once commercial airlines mount operations from this airfield under the Centre’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, people living in south-east Bengaluru (Electronics City and surrounding areas) will be able to reach Delhi or Mumbai sooner than reaching Kempegowda International Airport.

This coup d’etat of sorts by Tamil Nadu makes our politicians look real bad. Successive governments and civic agencies have been thinking up fantastical and futuristic solutions (underground tunnel to the airport; now-junked steel flyover; pod taxis as Metro feeders etc) instead of incremental changes that could tackle the terrible traffic problem (removing structural bottlenecks and not letting roads to be used as parking lots etc.).

The Hosur airport is around 35 km from Electronics City and takes around 30 minutes to reach compared to KIA which is around 80 km away and takes at least 2 hours on a good day during non-peak hours. Add to that over Rs 1,500 that taxis charge to get E-Citizens to the airport.

Balakrishna Reddy P, MLA from Hosur constituency and Minister of Animal Husbandry and Welfare in the Tamil Nadu government, told Bangalore Mirror: “Our former chief minister Late J Jayalalithaa had written to the Centre asking it to make use of the not-so-popular airports in the state and had also said that Bengaluru stands to gain the most with this move. Last week, the Centre approved (the use of Hosur airport) under the UDAN scheme and we also passed the agreement in the Cabinet. Hosur airport is now ready to take off.”

The Tamil Nadu government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) last week to start low-cost air services from Hosur airport. It said that TruJet, a Hyderabad-based airline, is expected to mount flights from the airport soon. Currently, TruJet connects Bengaluru with Hyderabad, Rajahmundry, Tirupati, Vijaywada and Goa. TruJet did not respond to queries from Bangalore Mirror.

The airport at Hosur Road is maintained by Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd (TAAL) and is a private airfield. This airport is capable of handling Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s. Its hangars can accommodate only narrow body aircraft as of now.

The TAAL airfield is currently used for chartered flights. Bangalore Mirror saw aircraft of Drukair (from Bhutan), Maldivian Airlines and Boliviana de Aviacion (Bolivia’s national airline) parked at the airfield. Also, the Aeronautical Development Establishment (a key wing of DRDO) has tested its unmanned aerial vehicles from the airfield.

Elaborating on the airport, Reddy said: “We had restrictions before but we got the clearance. This is a great opportunity for the people of Bengaluru, particularly residents of Electronics City. We have many buses connecting (Bengaluru) to Chennai and Salem, but this (airport) will ease travel plans of people.”

He added, “This first phase of implementation of the Centre’s UDAN scheme will promote regional air connectivity. Not just that, more employment opportunities will lead to growth of trade and industry in the area and the overall socio-economic status of people will improve. This will also pave the way for more connections between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.”

As if in anticipation of the busloads of people expected to reach Thally, world-class roads have been laid around the airport. Also, roads from areas like Chandapura, Attibele etc which join Hosur Road are in really good nick and will provide fast and smooth connectivity to the TAAL airfield.

“Already, the area surrounding by the airport is getting a facelift. The airport will connect Salem and Neyveli and improve the transport facilities in the stretch. We still need to think of other modes of transport systems in Hosur which will serve as feeder services,” an official of the Tamil Nadu transport department told Mirror.
BM could not get an official comment from TAAL as its MD, Salil Taneja, is abroad. An official, who is not authorized to speak to the media, said that the airport is spread over 248 acres and the runway length is 2168 m (KIA runway is 4,000 m long but a runway length of 2,000 m is more than adequate for most commercial airliners, except for wide-bodied aircraft). The official said that they had been informed of the development but are yet to receive a formal letter. “There is no need for any expansion except some technical logistics. We can handle as many as flights as possible,” the official said.

The only possible hitch in this plan is the concession agreement for the development, construction, operation and maintenance of Bangalore International Airport. When the MoCA and BIAL signed on the dotted line in 2004, it was agreed that “no new or existing airport (except for Mysore and Hassan airports) shall be permitted by GoI to be developed as, or improved or upgraded into, a domestic airport within an aerial distance of 150 km of the airport before the 25th anniversary of the airport opening date”. KIA started operations in May 2008 and the TAAL airfield is 60 km from KIA, as the crow flies.

BIAL officials refused to comment on Tamil Nadu’s proposal. But if everything falls into place, E-Citizens could be flying over gridlocked Bengaluru faster Than They Can Say “Silk Board”.