One aviation platform important for Bangalore: BIA Chief

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Bangalore, May 24 (UNI) Strongly arguing against retaining the HAL airport which ceased to operate after the launch of Bengaluru International Airport(BIA) last night, Albert Brunner, CEO of the greenfield airport, today said a single platform was vital for the development of civil aviation in the city.

''All aviation activities should be in one airport. Operating two airports can be detrimental to the development of the aviation sector in Bangalore. We are absolutely convinced that the HAL airport has to be closed for civil aviation,'' he said, talking to newspersons after the first landing at the new airport at Devanahalli, about 40 km North of the city.

He said it was in the interest of the city and its business community and not just the promoters, Bangalore International Airports Ltd.

''What we need is a modern international airport with as many connections as possible in one place. We are absolutely convinced that BIA can handle the increasing air passenger traffic in the city and can easily handle 12 to 15 million passengers in the next two years before we take up expansion work,'' he said.

In the first phase, the Rs 2740 crore has been spent on the facility which includes the single runway of 4.5 km, terminal building with 53 gates and the cargo complex.

A heated debate had been initiated by the corporate world in the city, mainly the IT companies, which demanded two airports to meet future demand. They had argued that with single runway BIA will not be able to handle the situation once the present traffic of 11 million passengers start increasing.

On the contentious User Development Fee(UDF) for domestic passengers, Mr Brunner said the domestic passengers will also have to pay the UDF after three months. Now the airport promoted by the international consortium of Zurich International Airports Ltd, Siemens and L and T, along with the state government as a partner, was charging Rs 1070 per foreign passenger and had held back charging UDF to domestic passengers on the instructions of the regulator.

''The domestic traveller will also have to pay the UDF. We have agreed with the regulator not to charge UDF for domestic passenger for the first three months. But we have to charge something. We will continue our negotiation with civil aviation ministry,'' he added.

The Hyderabad International Airport also promoted by a private consortium is not charging UDF.

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