A Joint House Committee of the Karnataka State Legislature has suggested to the Government to consider reopening of the HAL airport for “low-cost carriers, regional flights, courier services, executive jets and so on”.

The panel said: “The Government should consider the valuable inputs in the report of Airports Authority of India and the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Civil Aviation, and also notings of this committee” and give “fresh thought on the re-opening of the HAL Airport for healthy competition and convenience of the public”. It said that the Executive Order issued for closure of the HAL Airport “be reviewed by the Centre, and the airport allowed to function”. This would improve connectivity to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, an objective of the aviation policy.

Bharatiya Janata Party MLA D. Hemachandra Sagar, who headed the 21-member joint legislature committee (JLC), tabled the report on “Examination of Construction of BIA” in the Legislative Assembly on Monday. The JLC recommended that the airport be immediately renamed “Kempegowda International Airport”, to commemorate the person who built Bangalore.

Façade inappropriate

The committee report expressed disappointment over the facade of the terminal building of the BIAL which had failed to depict the “culture and glory” of Karnataka. It noticed that the terminal building of the BIAL was described as an “Industrial Shed” and suggested improvements to its façade, which could reflect the culture and heritage of Karnataka.

The Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has also not fully put its land to use. The Government has acquired 4,390.41 acres of land earmarked for the project, and of this has allotted 4,009 acres to BIAL. “The committee is of the view that the actual allotment of land should have been in a phased manner concurrent with actual utilisation. It has become imperative for the State to enact a control mechanism to re-establish public supremacy while respecting the PPP model that prevails in this liberalised environment,” the committee report stated.

While noting that the PPP agreement had provided that the minority shareholders, including AAI and Karnataka State Industrial and Investment Development Corporation (KSIIDC), are provided the right to review and approve the project implementation process including terms of contracts, it strongly recommended utilising the clause to exercise control over the private promoters.

Supporting facilities

The committee had felt that establishment of a new green-field airport as a ‘standalone’ project was not tried elsewhere in the world, and opined that airports by themselves are not commercially viable. “It is therefore evident that a new green-field airport project such as BIAL has to be integrated with a number of supporting infrastructural facilities to boost economic activity,” the report had said.