Newskarnataka – Mysore
Mysore: Finally, flight services between Mysore-Bangalore have been introduced following efforts put in by local MP H Vishwanath, several other elected representatives as well as major companies like Wipro.
In fact, the Spice Jet which was operating flights to Chennai from Bangalore during Dasara, had later offered services only on the Mysore-Chennai route. Now, following much pressure it has agreed for direct flight services between Mysore and Bangalore on six days a week excluding Tuesday.
The 78 seater capacity flight will land in Mysore airport at 2.30 pm and take off at 4.30 pm. The air fare is fixed at Rs 4000 between Bangalore to Mysore and Chennai to Mysore.
Mysore, known to be a cultural city and also a world famous tourist destination, has lagged behind in air services all these years despite the inaugural of an airport. Now, the airport here is making news following the commencement of Bangalore-Mysore flight services. There is a reason behind this. Soon after the inaugural of the Mysore airport, it was the Mallya owned King Fisher Airlines which operated flights from here. However, the services were suspended later on.
There is an interesting story behind the setting up of an airport in Mysore. The demand for an airport to the cultural capital was quite longstanding. Finally, the government conceded to the demand and even established the airport. But with no flight services, the airport proved to be of little help. It was on October 1, 2010 that the King Fisher Airlines operated flights between Mysore and Bangalore. But, very soon the Airlines suspended the flight services following financial crunch.
Many believed that Mysore would take giant leaps in development once the airport became operational. But that never happened and the airport faced several obstacles. Even now there are many who argue that the airport was not safe.
The location: The Mysore airport is located at Mandakalli on the Nanjanagudu Road, about 10 km away from the city. Many refer to this airport at Mandakalli Airport instead of Mysore airport. Moreover there is no proper bus arrangements towards the airport and people will have to opt for the city service buses or tempos heading towards Nanjanagud.
It is being said that around 168 acres land was earmarked for the airport by the then Mysore kings in the year 1947 itself. History also says that the airport was first operational in 1950 and flights were available only during Dasara festival. In the years later i.e after 1958 only four seater aircrafts used to be operated from here.
Agreement: It was in the year 2005 that an agreement was signed between the Airports Authority of India and the State Government to develop the Mysore air craft to facilitate landing and take-off of large aircrafts. Though works began, they failed to pick up pace. Amid various stumbling blocks like protests, the airport works were complete and the then chief minister BS Yeddyurappa declared it open on May 15, 2010. But none of the private operators came forward to operate flight services from the city.
Five months later, the Kingfisher Airlines operated the first flight to the airport on October 1 during Dasara. Several leaders including the then CM Yeddyurappa, then opposition leader Siddaramaiah, Vijay Mallya and others had arrived by the maiden flight which was welcomed with an air fountain.
Safety concerns: But, soon after the Mangalore Air Crash of May 2010, there were complaints were heard that the Mysore Airport was not safe. Later it was decided to extend the existing 1.7 km run way to 2.4 kms in the second phase as the existing runway was only suitable for ATR 72 aircrafts of 50-60 seats.
The expansion of the runway required 333 acres of land and the then CM Yeddyurappa had directed the district administration to acquire 188 acres of land. As per official sources, the Airport has been constructed in adherence to the Standard Recommended Practices and the parameters fixed by the Montreal International Civil Aviation Organisation. Even the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of Delhi has inspected the airport and has given its approval.
Appeal to Aviation Minister: Still, some organisations are not happy with the safety aspect of the airport. According to these organisations, the Chamundi Hills which is 2865 feet above sea level will hinder movement of flights during night time. Moreover, with several lakes located in the vicinity of the airport, there is always the danger, they argue. The local Citizens Forum had brought these aspects to the notice of the then Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and then CM Yeddyurappa.
‘Safe Airport’: However, Airport authorities refute the allegations. According to them, the Chamundi Hills is 4.5 km away from the airport and it would not affect the landing and take-off of aircrafts. Rajeev Gupta, in-charge officer of the airport says there are no valleys or hilly terrains in close proximity of the airport and the runway has been constructed in accordance to international standards. He says all safety norms are in place and the airport can permit AB 321 aircrafts of 180 seater capacity once the runway is extended.
In the meantime, it has been decided to shift the NH 212 (Mysore-Nanjangud) to Suttur Road to prevent any danger to aircrafts during landing and take-off once the runway is extended. But going by the present developments, there is no indication of expansion of runway anywhere in the near future. As of now, the only matter of happiness is that the Spice Jet is operating Bangalore-Mysore flights.