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Global airlines may review plans

Piyush Pandey  |  Ahmedabad 

With the Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel putting on hold the work on the new international terminal of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, various international airlines, which were planning to commence operations from Ahmedabad over the next three months, may postpone their plans.
N S Jaldhari, airport director, said, "We will provide space and time slots to most of the international airlines planning to commence operations from Ahmedabad with the existing infrastructure till the fate of the international terminal is decided. The decision on the work on the airport will be taken by a meeting of the airport officials with the civil aviation minister in New Delhi next week. We will provide time slots to the international airlines in such a way that there is no clash of timings."
International airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Slovak Airlines and Japan Airlines are planning to commence their operations from Ahmedabad.
Air India has recently introduced its direct international flight to London and its maiden direct flight from Ahmedabad to New York took off on June 11 and Ahmedabad-Dubai direct flight is scheduled for Sunday.
Sri Lankan Airlines has postponed its plans to commence operations from Ahmedabad until November. It was scheduled to commence operations from May.
Sri Lankan Airlines officials were in Ahmedabad on Thursday. They are delaying operations due to technical reasons.
A senior official of Air India said, "Being a national carrier, we have to commence our direct international flights from Ahmedabad. The facilities at the airport are not suitable for international airlines to operate flights."
Praful Patel was apparently unhappy with the facilities at the international terminal and this prompted him to stop construction plans.
Singapore Airlines had earlier announced commencement of its direct service from Ahmedabad from July 28. Thai Airways and Slovak Airlines were also planning to start their operations in the next two months, and Air Malaysia and Japan Airlines officials were in the city recently to conduct a feasibility study.
Not satisfied with the facilities, officials of Malaysia Airlines decided to commence its operations only after upgradation of the Ahmedabad airport.
"We have conducted an operational evaluation study. On the operations side, its feasible to start our flights, but the international terminal needs a facelift at the earliest. We have decided to start our direct flights from Ahmedabad only after development of facilities as assured by the airport director," Shamshul Amree, co-ordinator, operations evaluation team, Malaysia Airlines, said.
Officials of Slovak Airlines will arrive in the city soon for the second round of talks with the airport officials as the work on the airport has been put on hold.
Slovak Airlines had already conducted its feasibility study and was supposed to commence its international operations soon. However, this will be reviewed now.

First Published: Sat, June 12 2004. 00:00 IST