Wednesday, August 10, 2011

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW ! RAHI to set up regional airports and airline

Neelam Mathews
Aug 10, 2011

Bengaluru-based Regional Airport-Holdings International (RAHI) is firming its business plan for an air taxi operation and a regional airline, to be announced by the end of the month, Umesh Kumar Baveja, Founder-Chairman, told Aerospace Diary.

The company has also started construction of two regional airports at Shimoga and Gulbarga in Karnataka, scheduled for completion in mid 2012.

The air taxi operation will have rotary wing aircraft between 5-20 seats to feed smaller airstrips while the regional airline, named RAHI, will have on its fleet, 30-40 seaters. The airline plans to start with 4-5 aircraft, says Baveja.

“No destination is too small for us,” says Baveja, echoing the tagline of his company’s name.

“Regional airports is our first name. We are looking at serving hinterlands rather than the metros,” he adds.

The location for the base for the aircraft has not been decided as it will be subject to viability, availability and feasibility of operations.

RAHI may acquire half of the 99 airports it plans to operate by 2025.

The plan, according to Baveja, is not ambitious given that Ministry of Civil Aviation has plans to set up 500 airports by 2020. “This would mean one airport in every district. Our plan is in line with that of the central government…Besides, the Karnataka government has been very supportive and a facilitator.”

Gulbarga holds potential for regional operations with rich limestone deposits in the region and eleven cement plants planned. Shimoga has a Rs 3000 crore infrastructure investment in the offing.

The size of the runways will be 1910m in Shimoga and 1900m in Gulbarga in keeping with the DGCA directive to accommodate an ATR-72 on full load capacity in the worst climatic conditions.

RAHI is a joint venture between IL&FS Transportation Networks Limited (ITNL) and Comet Infra-Developments Private Ltd., an infrastructure development group. The JV is currently developing airports in Shimoga and Gulbarga in Karnataka, under the Public-Private Partnership model. The concession period for both projects is 30 years, extendable by an additional 30 years.

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