the airport conundrum

Those of you who would’ve flown recently would’ve noticed the logjam that plagues most flights in India today. delayed flights, long queues for checkin, insanely long time for security checks, queues everywhere and all such.

Now, there are a number of small and unused airports, some of which are not too far off from the metros. Most of these strips had been built during world war 2 and are in a state of disrepair. What if terminals could be built there and high speed trains established to the nearest city?

For example, Tumkur is 70km from Bangalore, and in all likelihood has an unused airport. If one could lay tracks from this airport and connect it to the already existing tumkur-bangalore broadgauge line, and run frequent high-speed non-stop trains to Bangalore city, one could reach the City Railway Station in about an hour after leaving the airport, the same that it takes now by road from HAL.

Would this be much more expensive than a Greenfield airport in Devanahalli? Rather, couldn’t this be a good ALTERNATIVE to devanahalli, and also split the crowd? Wouldn’t it take much lesser time just cleaning up the present airstrip, building a basic terminal and laying railway lines? It is a wonderful opportunity for the railways also – assured heavy high-willingness-to-pay traffic on a short haul route, so they should be ready to jump at it.

Who will bell the CAT is the question. What if Kingfisher and Jet decide to take equity in this new airport, maybe along with the AAI and railways? Are there too many other regulatory hurdles? Are there enough players who would stand to gain signifiacntly by this (other than consumers) who will be willing to invest?

Today’s business standard says that the civil aviation ministry has changed policy with regards to multiple airports in a city and has given permission for second airports in all metros. also the earlier condition that there can’t be 2 airports within 150 km of each other has been relaxed. Good stuff.

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