Staff Correspondent

‘Expedite works on upgrading Sambra airport’

Discontinuing of the air service has discouraged entrepreneurs: BCCI

‘Belgaum is the second largest exporter of industrial products in the State’

Belgaum: A delegation of the Belgaum Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI), led by its president Balappa B. Kagganagi, has submitted a memorandum to Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel requesting him to restart air service between Belgaum and Mumbai at the earliest.

The BCCI has also urged the Minister to expedite works on upgrading the Sambra airport, located 10 km from Belgaum city, to facilitate landing of aircraft such as the Boeing.

According to Mr. Kagganagi, Belgaum, located between Bangalore and Mumbai, is the second largest exporter of industrial products in Karnataka after Bangalore. Belgaum was connected to Mumbai by air earlier but the service was discontinued about a year ago. This had caused a lot of hardships to industrialists, he said.

Many entrepreneurs had put on hold their plans to invest in Belgaum as the city lacked proper connectivity, Mr. Kagganagi said and added that discontinuing of the air service to Mumbai had only discouraged them further.

How could the Government expect entrepreneurs to invest in the city without providing them services such as air connectivity, a source in the BCCI told The Hindu here on Sunday.

The BCCI said that airline companies had plans to expand their fleet. In such a situation, aircraft maintenance and service facilities at Mumbai and Bangalore might not be able to cater to the growing needs. Besides this, maintenance and servicing of aircraft had become expensive in metros. Also, space available at airports in such cities for additional hangars and maintenance workshops was less, the BCCI said. As a result, a majority of airline operators were considering shifting their maintenance and servicing facilities to small cities (such as Belgaum), it said.

Belgaum had the potential to meet the requirements of airline operators, the BCCI said and added that nearly 4,000 persons could get jobs if such facilities were started here.