The recent mishap at the Mangalore airport has made the people, the government and the airlines as well to think at the airports Tier-II cities like Mangalore, Mysore, Hassan and Belgaum.
Civil aviation experts say that government has neglected these tier II cities and have foucused more on lucrative metro airports.
Take Mysore for example, which was inaugurated on May 15 still has no flights from there and now after the Mangalore incident no airline is willing to use smaller runways.
Belgaum is no excuse with no commercial flights for over a year now the new terminal building built will be in rags in no time.
The airport has good potential for growth. In addition to night landing facilities and fire-fighting crew, it is equipped with Navigational Aid (DVOR) used by international aircraft flying over Belgaum airspace (more than 100 domestic and international aircraft fly over Belgaum every day) from which the income to the AAI is much more than what is got by providing landing facilities to airplanes. VOR/DME and NDB are available on 24-hour basis while VHF main/stand-by is available during ATC watch hours. At present, scheduled flights are not being operated but only unscheduled ones, including those of the Indian Air Force.
AAI is spending about Rs.17 lakhs every month on establishment costs and maintenance of the airport.
The AAI wanted to upgrade the Sambra airport to facilitate landing of bigger aircraft. About 370 acres of land was required to extend the length of the runway from 4,500 ft. to 7,500 ft. and for construction of a second terminal. Partial land acquisition has been done but no work other than the terminal building is complete even after it was announced in 2006.
Not many airlines are interested in flying from these places due to lack of passengers.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) spent Rs3534.62 crore in the 10th Plan and is expecting to spend Rs12417.17 crore in the 11th Plan period. Currently, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore are operated by private companies, along with AAI, under the private public partnership (PPP) model. On the other hand, the government has not been able to rope in private partners for most of the Tier-II airports.
The recent mishap at Mangalore have made people raise their eyebrows when they hear of these tier II cities airports.
Actress Ramya, a self-confessed white-knuckle flyer said that Private jets and helicopters also have higher crash rates, so when she was invited to Belgaum for a function and the organisers offered to arrange a private aircraft, she politely declined.
Image courtesy Sahir Kittur