Kalyan, before Navi Mumbai, could end up hosting Mumbai’s second airport
The woes of all stakeholders — be it airline companies or the passengers or the operator of the Mumbai airport itself — are all too well known. The city whose only airport boasts of a record – that of highest number of landings and take-offs on a single runway — is crying for a new airport and another one at Navi Mumbai is still some years away. But before that, a non-functional airport at Kalyan, a city in Thane district near Mumbai, could be revived.
The airport at Kalyan belongs to the state government. A Ministry of Civil Aviation said the government had received four to five proposals from airline operators to fly to and from Kalyan under its regional connectivity scheme.
“The airport is not even functional and we have received four to five proposals under the UDAN scheme to connect Kalyan with regional routes,” the official said, saying that flights to and from the airport were a possibility in the future since the airlines themselves had expressed their interest in operating flights to and from there.
The ministry will on Thursday open financial bids by airline companies under the government’s regional connectivity scheme that seeks to connect unserved and under-served airports with partly subsidized flights, according to the official. The scheme is also known as UDAN which stands for ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik’ — roughly translating to ‘the country’s common man flies’.
It is worth noting that while the government is seeking to connect unserved and underserved airports with served airports, the airport at Mumbai has no additional slots to offer, UDAN or no UDAN. The official said the ministry had told the airlines that they could use their existing slots at the Mumbai airport to fly to and from Mumbai in order to connect the city to unserved and under-served airports. But no additional slots could be granted at Mumbai, the official said.
This is the second phase of UDAN scheme, routes under the first having been awarded earlier this year.
The scheme is laid out in such a way that airlines bid for the routes between two airports through an online auction where the name of the bidder isn’t known. The first financial bids are then made available to invite counter bids. The routes are finally awarded based on who asks for the lowest support from the government termed as viability gap funding. Thursday is when the counter bids will be opened and the names of the successful bidders made public.
The official said 17 companies had originally submitted bids with 141 proposals. Against this, 55 counter proposals have been received from 10 applicants. All proposals including those received in counter will be opened Thursday. The airlines bidding in this phase include IndiGo parent Interglobe Aviation, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. The first two had not participated in the first round of the scheme.
The contract to build and operate the proposed airport at Navi Mumbai has been awarded to GVK, which also operates the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.