New Bangalore airport launch delayed


New Delhi/Bangalore : The launch of the new international airport at Bangalore has been put on hold for at least four weeks due to inadequate air traffic control (ATC) officials, while the Hyderabad airport will be inaugurated March 14 as scheduled, an official said Tuesday.

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“The opening of the new Bangalore airport has been delayed for at least four weeks as some security observations are yet to be made,” K.N. Srivastava, joint secretary with the civil aviation ministry, told reporters in New Delhi.

“Talks are on in the ministry and a further decision would likely be reached by Wednesday,” he added.

The new international airport at Bangalore was scheduled for inauguration March 30.

Srivastava said at least 20 more people were required in the ATC to manage the air traffic.

However, developer firm Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) maintained there was no change in the inauguration date.

A BIAL spokesperson told IANS earlier in the day that the civil aviation ministry had confirmed no such decision was taken.

“The ministry has confirmed to us that there is no such decision on postponement of the Bengaluru International Airport launch date,” the BIAL spokesperson added.

BIAL chief executive officer (CEO) Albert Brunner also said here in a statement there was no official information from the ministry on the deferment of the launch date.

“We have not received any information validating newspaper reports,” Brunner asserted.

Reiterating its position, BIAL said it had demonstrated airport readiness with the successful flight trials March 7.

“During the trials, we had committed to delivering the new international airport to Bangalore March 30, while the inauguration is scheduled March 28,” the statement affirmed.

Meanwhile, Srivastava confirmed that the opening of the new airport in Hyderabad was on schedule. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is likely to inaugurate the airport.

He said the government would close down operations at the existing airports in the two southern metros in accordance with a contract with the private developers.

Worried over the move to shut down the existing airports, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Employees Joint Forum has decided to launch their ‘non-cooperation movement’ at all 127 airports across the country from Tuesday midnight.

Srivastava said: “We know about their move, but at the same are hopeful that talks between the AAI and its employees union will yield positive result and functioning at the airports will remain smooth.”

“The Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) is already in place and the Delhi High Court has already banned employees from going on strike. A legal notice by the AAI has already been given to employees,” the official said, adding that in case the talks failed, a contingency plan was ready at all airports.

Forum spokesman M.K. Ghoshal was unavailable for his comments despite repeated efforts.