Delhi airport operator gives nod to flights from Hindon air base in winter
Under a 2006 privatisation agreement, commercial flights are not allowed to operate from any airport within a 150-km radius of the Delhi airport. But agreeing to a ministry request, sources say Delhi airport has allowed it with conditionsdelhi Updated: Sep 22, 2017 11:26 IST
The GMR Infrastructure Ltd-run Delhi Airport has acceded to a government request to allow regional flights to operate from the Hindon Airforce Station in Ghaziabad from the winter season.
Aviation secretary RN Chaubey had said in August that the aviation ministry had asked the capacity-constrained Delhi Airport to allow alternative airports to host subsidy-backed flights to remote towns in smaller planes, under the new Udan scheme (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik).
Under a 2006 privatisation agreement, commercial flights are not allowed to operate from any airport within a 150-km radius of the Delhi airport.
Agreeing to the ministry request, said a person with knowledge of the matter, Delhi airport has added conditions.
“They have said you can operate to Hindon but only till their capacity enhancement is over. Then the flights will have to return to Delhi airport,” said this person, declining to be named.
A GMR group spokesperson confirmed the move, saying that “DIAL (Delhi International Airport Pvt. Ltd) has agreed with MoCA’s proposal.”
The caveats will include the use of Hindon Airforce Station as a temporary and stopgap arrangement until DIAL completes expansion and upgrades facilities at IGI Airport.
The Delhi airport will have exclusive rights to allocate slots at the Hindon Airforce Station and only 80 seater aircraft will be allowed.
The aviation ministry is not looking at reopening the old Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports as the new airports in those cities are not congested, Chaubey said in August.
GMR seems to be mindful of the fact that Hindon should not be used as a future template. “The consent given by DIAL is a one-off case, on the basis of specific request of MoCA and it shall not be construed as a pre-cursor for any other RCS Airports within the range of 150 km from IGI Airport,” it said in an email response to Mint’s queries.
The Delhi airport is in the process of expanding the capacity of existing terminals and building a new runway by 2021. DIAL said it will give out 80 additional flight slots in the coming winter season.
The Hindon airport is a single-runway base and home to Boeing C-17 Globemaster aircraft that form the backbone of the heavy airlift division of the Indian Air Force.
To be sure, while the government pegs the Udan airfare at about Rs 2,500, taxi fare from Hindon to the Delhi Airport would be about Rs 900-1300, and to the centrally located Connaught Place area about Rs 600-800, according to Uber app estimates.