defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will soon open
its Ozar military aerodrome at Nashik in Maharashtra to civilian
flights as an alternative to the congested Mumbai airport, a top
official said Friday.
"As part of our foray into the civilian sector, we are developing
the Ozar airport at Nashik, which is being used for flying only
military aircraft," HAL chairman R.K. Tyagi told IANS at an
aerospace event on the city's outskirts.
Regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has
recently permitted HAL to operate its Ozar airport for both
military and civil aircraft with additional facilities, including
a passenger-cum-cargo terminal as an alternative to the Mumbai
airport, which is getting congested.
With state-run (Air India) and private carriers using Ahmedabad
airport in Gujarat as an alternative, HAL plans to leverage its
proximity as Ozar is about 170 km from Mumbai while Ahmedabad is
560 km away.
"Operating flights from Ozar will be more economical than from
Ahmedabad, as airlines will save a lot of money on costly aviation
turbine fuel (ATF) and provide an alternative airstrip for long
and short-haul flights," Tyagi said on the margins of Aero India,
the five-day aerospace trade expo being held at the Indian Air
Force (IAF) Yelahanka base, about 25 km from north Bangalore.
In this context, Tyagi said the company would explore similar
opportunities to serve the growing civil aviation sector from its
dedicated airfields across the country, including Bangalore,
Koraput in Odisha and those under the state-run Airports Authority
of India (AAI) across the country.
HAL is also open to reviving its airport in the city for
short-haul flights and feeder service if the government allows.
"It is for the government to decide when we can re-open our city
airport for civilian flights, as the policy of not having a
similar airport within 150 km radius of the existing one
(Bangalore international airport) is still valid," Tyagi said.
Though HAL airport was used for domestic and international
civilian flights over the decades, the operations were shifted
since May 2008 to the country's first greenfield airport at
Devanahalli, about 40 km from the city, built under the
public-private partnership by a consortium of overseas and
Since then, there has been a persistent demand from the passenger
community to resume domestic flights from the HAL airport for
feeder routes across the state and other cities/towns in the
The high-powered committee, set up by the government under the
chairmanship of former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar, had drawn a
blueprint for HAL to foray into the civilian sector as a major MRO
(maintenance, repair and overhaul) player in the country and
manufacturer of regional transport aircraft and aero engines for
For an early move advantage in the sunrise sector, set to emerge
as the world's third largest civil aviation market, HAL plans to
invest about Rs.7,500 crore in setting up MRO facilities across
the country, manufacturing a 90-seater aircraft under a joint
venture with private vendors and aero engines, whose demand is
expected to be a whopping 250,000 by 2020.