AS
AVIATION INDUSTRY IS EXPANDING AT A FASTER PACE, AIRPORTS ARE GETTING CONGESTED –
GOVERNMENT IS PLANNING TO SHIFT GENERAL AVIATION ACTIVITIES TO SMALLER AIRPORTS

NEW
DELHI: People flying business jets to Bengaluru and Hyderabad may soon be
landing at the older airports in those cities as the aviation ministry is
looking at a proposal to shift business aircraft movements out of congested
airports in big cities.

The proposal was discussed in a meeting convened
by aviation secretary RN Choubey last month and Business Aircraft Operators
Association (BAOA) has been asked to prepare a list of alternative airports,
people familiar with the development said.

We have been asked to identify alternate airports
for general aviation flights in the country,” BAOA managing director RK Bali
said. “Not all cities have alternate airports available but some of them have
alternate airports, which we are going to suggest should be made available
within 25 to 30 km, immediately and/or in the medium or long term,” he told ET.

For example, according to industry insiders,
while alternative airports in Mumbai and Delhi may not be immediately
available, in Hyderabad and Bengaluru older airports can be used for business
Jet operations.

“Begumpet airport in Hyderabad and HAL airport in
Bengaluru can be used for business jet operations and will be beneficial for
business jet travellers too, as it will save time (being closer to the city),”
one of them said. They said business jet operators would look at making
proposed Navi Mumbai airport in Mumbai as their main airport whenever it comes
up.

“For Delhi, there is enough capacity
available, as a fourth runway is also coming up,” said the person quoted
earlier. The move is in line with global trends — big airports like Heathrow in
London and JFK airport in New York do not allow business jets to land and park.
Confirming the development, a senior aviation ministry official said, “A
proposal to shift general aviation to alternate airports was discussed and BAOA
will discuss the matter with scheduled airlines to arrive at a feasible
solution.

Industry insiders said the government should look
at increasing capacity at smaller airports to ensure that there are enough
parking bays at these airports.

“There are various problems with smaller airports
across the country,” said Kanika Tekriwal, founder of JetSetGo, an online
marketplace for private jets and helicopters.

“While airport in Jabalpur does not have bays to
park airplanes, airport in Aurangabad is open only for four hours due to lack
of air traffic controllers to manage them. There are many such examples. The
government should also look at building capacity and infrastructure at smaller
airports to ensure that there is enough space to park,” she said.

Capacity at many key airports in the country has
reached saturation, making any flight additions by carriers difficult. Allowing
airlines to operate flights out of alternate airports will help create some
space at these airports.