Hyderabad: Putting an end to discussions about handing over Begumpet airport to the army, the Centre has given a clear-cut answer. Replying to a question posed in Lok Sabha, the central government said that it had no plans of handing over Begumpet airport to the army.
After Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) at Shamshabad began to function in 2008, Begumpet airport turned commercially non-functional. It was following a concession agreement stipulated by the ministry of civil aviation.
As per the exclusivity clause of the concession agreement, no new or existing airport shall be permitted by the Indian government to be developed as, or improved or upgraded into, an International Airport within an aerial distance of 150 kilometres of the airport before the 25th anniversary of the airport’s opening date. It meant that no airport within a 150-kilometre radius of RGIA could be operated, thereby leading to the closure of Begumpet airport.
The concession agreement between GHIAL and the central government was signed in December 2004.
The burden of Begumpet Airport
The Begumpet Airport turned non-functional immediately after commercial operations shifted to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in 2008. It soon turned into a ghost airport that can operate but does not handle a single scheduled commercial flight. All expenses of such airports need to be taken care of by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
At present, the airport serves VVIPs, Telangana State Aviation flights and as a practice ground for Air Force cadets.
Answering yet another question in the parliament on the losses incurred by airports, the central government revealed that the Warangal airport is running at a loss of Rs 0.56 crores, as of 2018-19. Out of the two non-operational airports in Telangana — Nadirgul and Warangal — the latter has been running consistently at a loss of Rs 0.53 crore over the years between 2015 and 2019. As there is no revenue in these airports, certain expenses go towards its maintenance, which has led to the loss.