Mysore: Will the airport in the cultural city of Mysore see any progress in the near future? Well, if recent developments are of any indications, the chances are very dim. Already, the Spice Jet has suspended its services on the Mysore-Bangalore route citing shortage of passengers, much to the disappointment of many.
The Spice Jet had commenced its services on the sector a few months back following the efforts in by many in the backdrop of the suspension of Kingfisher flights on the route.
Here it is worth mentioning that the demand for an airport for Mysore was quite longstanding. However, by the time the airport became a reality here, there arose a complaint that there are no flights operating from here.
Finally the problem was solved when the Vijay Mallya owned Kingfisher Airlines commenced services on the Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai route from October 1, 2010.
But the airlines suspended services some time back after it was debt-ridden. A year later the Spice Jet commenced services but even that has met the fate of the earlier service.Now there is an uneasy silence in the Mysore airport even as several have started complaining that the airport was unsafe.
The background : The airport is located at Mandakalli about ten kms away from Mysore on the road leading to Nanjangud. The airport is often referred to as Mandakalli airport rather than Mysore airport. In fact the erstwhile Mysore kings had earmarked 168 acre land for the airport in 1947 itself. The airport started functioning since 1950 but flights operated only during Dasara festivities. In later years i.e in 1958 four seater aircrafts used to land here.
In the year 2005, the Airports Authority of India and the state government signed and MoU to develop the airport to facilitate landing and take-off of big aircrafts. The works though proceeded at snail’s pace were finally completed and the airport inaugurated on May 15, 2010 by the then Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa. Five months later on October 1, during Dasara, the Kingfisher Airlines operated its first flight from.Several leaders including the CM, then opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Vijay Mallya arrived by the maiden flight.
The flight used to leave Bangalore at 12 noon every day, reach Mysore at 12.45 pm and then leave Mysore at 2.45 and return to Bangalore at 3.30 pm and from there to Chennai.
However, soon there arose a grouse that the airport was unsafe, particularly after the May 22, 2010 Mangalore air crash. Finally, it was decided to extend the runway of the airport by 2.4 km as the existing 1.7 km runway was suitable only for ATR 72 aircrafts of 50-60 seater capacity. As 333 acre land was required for the same, the then CM Yeddyurappa had directed the district administration to acquire 188 acre land.
The Nagarika Vedike had even submitted a memorandum to the then Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and then CM Yeddyurappa that the airport had been constructed as per the Standard Recommended Practices (SARPS) and that all yardsticks laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation of Montreal have been adhered to. Even the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of New Delhi has given its green signal for the airport after looking into various aspects. Still, some organisations have been alleging that the airport was unsafe, the Vedike had pointed out and said according to the organisations the Chamundi Hills which is 2865 feet above the sea level endangers aircrafts during night time and that the presence of lakes in the vicinity also added to the problem.
The airport officials however are not ready to accept these allegations. According to them Chamundi Hills is located 4.5 km away from the airport and would not affect the landing or the take-off of the aircrafts. Still, the failure to make effective use of the airport and the absence of any flight from here have dampened hopes of development of this airport in the near future.