By Vijay Grover
In a first of its kind, Karnataka Government plans to launch a “Comprehensive Civil Aviation Policy” for the state. To set the ball rolling in this direction, the state government interacted in a workshop with the various stakeholders to understand and plan how its vision of setting up 16 airports in the state is achieved. Though ambitious, the response of the aviation sector clearly shows that Karnataka may become the first state, not just with its own civil aviation policy, but also the first state where people will have access to an airport within around 100 kms radius across the state.
The state is moving aggressively to build a robust civil aviation system to boost the state’s economy.
Addressing the state-level consultative workshop organized by the Karnataka Government in conjunction with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and included several airlines like Akasa Air, Star Air, Emirates and other airport operators like Bengaluru International Airport, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport and other regional airports.
The workshop stressed how the aviation sector can be given a thrust in Karnataka and saw some awe-inspiring suggestions from the Industry. Gaurav Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary, Infrastructure Development Government of Karnataka, told IA&D, “ We have a track record for a very robust system of ensuring that Public Private Partnership works in the state. In Aviation also, we look forward to key suggestions coming from not just Aviation sector, but also Tourism, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Training development sectors that can contribute to the growth of Karnataka is a key aviation hub not just in the country but across the world”
Kicking off the workshop, V Somanna, Minister of Infrastructure Development, Karnataka, said, “A robust policy would provide a boost to the economy of the state and various sectors – industries, horticulture and export of agricultural products, tourism, emergency medical services, and educational and technological development.”
The state government plans to have airports at 16 locations in the state; presently, only 7 cities in the state have operational airports. The state government looks forward to operationalizing Shivamogga airport by this year-end and is looking to get other cities like Raichur on the aviation map. The state is also proposing water aerodromes in major dams.
Keeping in mind the scope for tourism and economic development, the state government has focused on improving the civil aviation infrastructure across the state. Interestingly given that Bengaluru has emerged as the most significant gateway for International travel in the south and also the biggest cargo hub, makes Karnataka a strong contender for the launch of airlines, no wonder Vinay Dubey, CEO of Akasa Air, told IA&D, “ Bengaluru will be one of the first major hubs” for soon to be launched Akasa Airline.
Discussions at the workshop on framing the New Aviation Policy propped up several suggestions from industry players. While the Bengaluru Airport outlined its expansion plans as it gets ready to start operations from Terminal 2 in the coming few months, Air Ambulance and Heli-tourism sector operators expressed their concerns with the existing framework. They sought that the new policy protects small aircraft operators and heli ambulances from high parking and landing charges.
Currently, the development works of airports in the Shivamogga, Vijayapura, and Hassan districts are in progress and are expected to be completed and become operational soon. The government plans to acquire around 240 acres of land and hand it over to the Airports Authority of India for a runway extension and airport up-gradation of Mysuru Airport.
Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, Ministry Of Civil Aviation, highlighted and welcomed the foresight of the Karnataka Government as it gets ready to launch its New “ Comprehensive Aviation Policy”. “considering that Karnataka is going to develop 16 airports and planning to expand on international, national and regional airlines the policy will help but last mile connectivity will have to be planned accordingly. The ecosystem needs to be worked out with proper infrastructure and kick start with incentives,” said Usha Padhee.
Hephsiba Rani, Joint Secretary, Infrastructure Development Department, Government Of Karnataka, told IA&D, “ We wanted to make the policy comprehensive, and something that will boost not just aviation but all other allied sectors workshop was designed to give precious inputs to the Government. The way the Airlines, Airports, Cargo and other ancillaries like MRO sector have come forward is truly inspiring”.
The draft policy, once approved, will be implemented soon after it is approved, once again making Karnataka a pioneer in this direction.