Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Indian Company Set To Develop Epinal-Mirecourt, Karaikal Airports


Aviation Daily Mar 09 , 2010 , p. 08
Neelam Mathews

Indian airport development company Super Airport Infrastructure expects to finalize a deal with Epinal-Mirecourt Airport (Aroport d’epinal-Mirecourt), located in the Lorraine region in Northeast France, to build and run a new terminal, the construction of which will start by August.

The company is looking at targeting Air India and Jet Airways as its main customers. “We know that Air India is looking at a new hub in Europe and while Air India has been in talks with Dublin Airport, we believe we can offer a much more cost-efficient solution for flights to connect onwards to the U.S and Europe,” a spokesman told The DAILY.

The airport has been, and still is, frequently used for both initial pilot training and crew qualification training by Air France, Edelweiss Air, Privatair, Jet Aviation, Helvetic Airways, Condor, Eat/DHL, Belair and Comlux.

K. Ramalingam, managing director of Super Airport, said the airport could prove an alternative for airlines looking at lower costs. Mirecourt is 350 kilometers from Paris, a city with restricted night landings. Also, many Indian carriers do not have rights to fly to Paris.

The airport’s proximity to both Switzerland and Germany has led to a large volume of traffic from flying schools and airlines based in both border countries.

Epinal-Mirecourt, run by Vosges Airport Association, currently caters to charter operators and has no scheduled service. Under the deal, it would be leased for 60 years with the possibility of a 30-year extension, and will be jointly managed and run by Vosges and Super Airport, Ramalingam said.

The two expect to sign a memorandum of understanding at the end of March in Paris.

Epinal-Mirecourt’s 3 km runway can handle widebodies, is 40 minutes from Nancy, 15 minutes from the spa towns of Vittel and Contrexville and is accessible from the Lorraine Burgundy motorway.

Super Airport is also looking at setting up a $44 million greenfield private airport in Karaikal, India, a former French colony about 300 km south of Chennai. The company is planning a cargo facility at Karaikal, being a seaport with a large cold-storage industry.

With clearances from the government expected to take at least two years, Ramalingam says Epinal-Mirecourt Airport will move faster than Karaikal.

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