The new Bangalore International Airport near Devanahalli has been “grounded”.
The airport, located 36 kms from the city centre, was supposed to be inaugurated on March 28 and start commercial operations by March 30. “The official opening of the new airport at Bangalore has been postponed due to issues relating to air traffic control and safety. A decision regarding the opening of the new airport will be taken in the next 2-3 days,” Civil Aviation secretary Ashok Chawla told the Hindustan Times on Monday.
Chawla said a decision will be taken after discussions with Karnataka’s Chief Secretary K Sudhakar Rao and other senior state bureaucrats on Tuesday. The bureaucrats are already in the capital for discussions on the state’s budget, since Karnataka is under President’s Rule.
Three PILs against the closure of the old HAL airport in Bangalore were also admitted by the Karnataka High Court on Monday. Notice has been issued to the state and central governments. The matter will be heard on March 25. The Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL), the consortium which built the new airport, is however, still blissfully going ahead with preparations for the inauguration on March 28. The putting up of a podium and shamiana for the function are almost complete.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Left leaders met Chawla, requesting him to postpone opening of the new airport by three months. Airport sources said Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) of the new airport have expressed apprehensions to the Airports Authority of India about the hasty manner in which the operational launch of the airport is being carried out. Though about 80 ATCs will be required to launch full-scale services, the airport currently has only 25. ATCs at the airport said commencement of services with so few of them would be risky and irresponsible.