The refurbished Mysore Airport finally sees commercial flight operations.
A Kingfisher Airlines ATR-72 landed at the revamped airport, with the Chamundi Hills providing a beautiful backdrop, on September 30. It carried the first batch of passengers Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and airlines chairman and MP Vijay Mallya among them. The plane was given a ceremonial aviation welcome — a “water salute” — by fire tenders. The first flight took off for Bangalore from the aiport the same day.
The modernisation of the Mandakalli airport was completed on September 15, 2009, and Mysoreans eagerly awaited its commercial operation during 2009 Dasara. But it had to wait till this Dasara. The airport, lying on the Mysore-Ooty highway, has now become accessible for passengers between Mysore and Bangalore, and onwards. The airport was formally inaugurated last June by the chief minister.
Private operators were staying away insisting on certain concessions from the state government to make their operations economically viable. In the intergum, the airport, modernised by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) at Rs 60 crore, was being used for private landings, mostly politicians. The private operators’ demands included reduction in aviation turbine fuel tax, which, in Karnataka, is the highest in the country.
Kingfisher’s IT 2404 will depart from Bangalore at noon and arrive at Mysore at 12.45 pm. From Mysore, flight IT 2407 will depart at 2.20 pm and arrive at 3.10 pm in Bangalore. The direct flight will offer travellers from Mysore a one-stop connection to and from state capitals and other cities including New Delhi.
AAI had taken up the development of Mysore Airport for ATR-72 type aircraft operations in Phase I. Accordingly, it has completed construction of the runway 09/27 of dimension 1,740m x 30m, apron and link taxiway with associated facilities in March 2008 suited for short haul ATR-72 aircraft operational with a passenger capacity of 60-70. The terminal is spread over 3,250 sq m and can handle 150 to 200 passengers at a time. Construction of terminal building, technical block-cum- control tower, fire station, and other facilities were completed in March 2010.
However, the Rs 140 crore second phase of the project which includes upgrade of the airport with its apron, setting up of air traffic control, meteorological department and upgrading the terminus is yet to be taken up. When this project is completed, the airport will be able to operate Airbus 320 and Boeing 737.
Built during the rule of the Mysore maharajas, the Mandakalli airstrip was handling chartered Dakotas bringing top dignitaries like Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhai Patel and Rajendra Prasad and foreign tourists from Bangalore’s HAL Airport. A leading English daily of Chennai used to send send its newspaper bundles in a special flight for a few months. Vayudut feeder services introduced in mid-80s were suspended later because of poor patronage. It remained defunct subsequently.