Shamshabad Airport to begin operations on Mar 23: MoCA

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Hyderabad, Mar 20 (UNI) Mired in controversy with low cost airlines stoutly opposing the 'exhorbitant' charges proposed to be levied, the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) at Shamshabad is set to commence operations from 0001 hrs on March 23.

Moments after UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi formally inaugurated on March 14, the RGIA, India's first greenfield airport project under the private-public partnership model, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry (MocA) put off the operations of the airport scheduled to begin at 0025 hrs on March 16.

The Ministry sought time on issues raised by the low-cost carriers to shift their operations from the Hyderabad Airport at Begumpet to the new airport at Shamshabad.

While the Ministry had put off the opposition from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) employees with an 'assurance' to keep the Begumpet Airport open, it could not brush aside the issues raised by the low-cost private operators on the more than trebling of the airport charges, including on baggage and handling, at Shamshabad Airport.

The Ministry had communicated that no user development charges would be collected from domestic passengers initially unlike Rs 1,000 from each international passenger.

But after a seven-day tussle with the low-cost airline operators, the Ministry today gave a green signal to the GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) to start operations at the Shamshabad Airport from midnight Sunday.

GHIAL, a consortium of private investors led by GMR Infrastructure Limited, holds 63 per cent, AAI and Andhra Pradesh Government 13 per cent each and Malaysian Airport 11 per cent, had developed the Rs 2478-crore RGIA which is designed to handle 12 million passengers per annum in the first phase of its operations.

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