Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Govt to pay for four vacant seats on flights to tier II cities


GMR may be asked to operate Bidar civilian airport

The State government has proposed to pay for at least four vacant seats per aircraft plying within Karnataka. To encourage intra-state air traffic, the Infrastructure Development Department (IDD) will underwrite seats on routes which connect Bangalore with Bidar, Gulbarga, Mysore and Bijapur.

The decision, which has been warranted on account of low-cost airlines not showing interest to ply their services to tier-II cities, will be implemented once the infrastructure in these cities is ready for air traffic.

Minister for Infrastructure Development Roshan Baig told Deccan Herald that the government was busy resolving the crisis surrounding the various tier-II city airports.

“Once we resolve the crisis, we will begin talks with low-cost airlines to ply their services with the assistance of the government. Without the subsidies, it is not likely that these low cost airlines will come forth,” he said. Baig said that apart from underwriting seats, the government is planning to relax the norms for State government officials to fly to these destinations on official duty. With this relaxation in norms, even if an official is forced to cancel his or her seat, the airline does not lose revenue.

Baig said that the government proposes that GMR Constructions operate the Bidar civilian terminal. The terminal which was constructed by the State government in 2009, after having only taken an in-principle approval, has been closed due to rules and regulations of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and the objection by GMR which runs the Hyderabad airport.

It is said that on account of Bidar falling within the 150-km radius of the flying zone of the Hyderabad international airport, it cannot operate independently.

The government, on account of resolving this technicality, has decided to hand over the operations of Bidar airport to GMR. The State government had spent Rs 5.5 crore to construct the Bidar terminal inside the defence air base after seeking permission from the IAF and Ministry of Defence.

With regard to the Gulbarga airport, the government has asked IL&FS to proceed with its construction with the dispute with the previous developer RAHI being resolved. It is expected that the airport construction and other allied facilities are completed by the end of the 2014-15 financial year