Karnataka Government in a recent turn-up of the books has announced its plans to foray into the world of Aviation. August 30, 2023 marked the historic day when the government pioneered the programme- ‘Gruha Lakshmi Yojna’, and fulfilled one of the oaths it took during the election rallies. The success of the scheme ensures monthly support of Rs.2000 to the women heads of ‘Below Poverty Line (BPL)’ families through direct benefit transfer (DBT).
Extending the scope and parameters of their future goals for welfare, sustainability, and regional connectedness in the state, the Karnataka government is now planning to rule the offbeat territory of commercial airlines. On August 31 (2023), the 100th day juncture of the newly elected government, M.B. Patil (the state minister for Large and Medium Industries and Infrastructure Development) made a startling declaration on the fresh observations and plans of Karnataka government.
Karnataka Government’s take on self-owned Airlines
Shivamogga airport is the first of its kind to be managed by the government itself. The thought of establishing state-owned airline services kindled from the necessity to promulgate the cause of economic and sustainable infrastructural growth in the region as well as employing autonomy with the origination of home-based air passenger carriers, exempt from the involvement of Air authority of India.
Minister M.B. Patil gave a run down on the upcoming airport projects that will fall under the authority of Karnataka government. Expected airports- Raichur, Ballari, Karwar, Vijayapura, and Hassan will be supervised directly by the Karnataka State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (KSIIDC). The Vijayapura Airport is set to be inaugurated latest by April 2024.
Mr. Patil also gave his remarks on the status of the airports. He commented that earlier they had to hand over the airports to the Airport Authority of India with no benefits to them.
Aviation Industry and its Colossal Budget
Businessman and Philanthropist Sanjay Ghodawat, chairman of Star Air gave his valuable advice on expenses of acquiring an aircraft on being reached out by the minister M.B. Patil.
The businessman enlightened the minister and disclosed the whooping cost of Rs.200 crore for a single aircraft. He further advised the minister that the costs will be less if the aircraft is taken on a lease and added that Rs.600 crore is not a huge amount for the government if they were to purchase three aircrafts.
In response to Sanjay’s remarks, the Minister said- “Good air connectivity in the state outweighs the cost”.
Aviation Expert in Disagreement with Karnataka’s Plan
A report by Deccan Herald sheds light on the reasons the aviation expert Devesh Aggarwal sees Karnataka’s plan ‘unviable’.
Aviation expert Devesh Aggarwal states- “If at all the state government is interested in promoting air connectivity, then it should opt for the European model of subsidy, a fixed discount per trip, instead of starting its own airline or running airports. Both are wrong as the government has no business to be in the business”.
Goal of establishing robust airlines in the state
M.B. Patil showed enthusiasm around the government’s air strip development plans that are under good progress at the present. These air strips are getting developed in towns- Kodagu, Chikmagalur, and Dharmasthala. A heliport for Hampi is also in its initial stage of installation.
Minister Patil visualizes his goal about air connectivity. He said- “If regional air connectivity can be improved then the state’s own airline is not impossible”. Mr. Patil briefed about the possible outcome of the new air connectedness project development. He went on and explained that a new chain of routes can be established between Mysore and Bengaluru, Bengaluru and Shivamogga, along with Bengaluru and Kalaburagi.
Mr. Patil stated that the project aligns with Chief Minister Siddarmaiah’s pledge of incorporating a Civil Aviation Policy and is also in accordance with his proposition of budget.