HAL airport wears desert look after BIA launch

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Bangalore, May 24: The three-decade-old Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) airport wore a deserted look today following operation of greenfield Bengaluru International Airport late last night.

The curtains came down on the commercial operations at the airport owned by the public sector aircraft manufacturer which was opened for civil aircraft in the 1980s. In 1997 the airport had begun international services. The airport, built in 1940 by legendary businessman Walchand Hirachand, was taken over by the British for use during the World War II when Japanese army was closing in on the Eastern frontiers and entered Burma.

It became the HAL airport after the public sector came into being in 1964. The buzz in front of the HAL airport was missing and the road leading to it wore a deserted look, with several taxi drivers and shops outside the complex appeared a worried lot.

The shift of civilian air operations from HAL airport has put thousands of people out of jobs. There were 800 taxis most of which was driven by the owners, while the complex had over 100 shops.

While the promoters of the new airport had invited tenders for various outlets they had also allowed multinational taxi companies to operate from the BIA. Out of 800 taxis that plied in the old airport, only 100 had been allowed by the new airport.

The teeming Airport road had become one of the busiest roads in the Garden City and hundreds of business units including hotels and other outlets depended on the airport for major portion of their business.

Nearly 10,000 people will now be affected with the sudden closure of the airport.

The airport was closed as per the concessional agreement reached between the Bangalore International Airport Limited, promoted by the private consortium consisting of Zurich International Airports Ltd, Siemens and the L and T. The Karnataka government holds 26 per cent stake in the project. The Civil Aviation Ministry was also a stake holder in the airport.

Under the agreement no airport would handle commercial aircraft in the 150 km diameter from the Devanahalli airport.

UNI

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