Monday, September 07, 2009

THE SAGA CONTINUES

23 Sept 2009: Charter flight landed in MYQ Airport carrying tourists on the Dasara trail. I hope the service lasts beyond Dasara, and hope that if such is the case, the DGCA will complete its certification works of the Airport and we can look forward to long lasting service. I hope I am not overly optimistic!

LATEST NEWS AS ON DATE; 21 SEPTEMBER 2009:

I am not sure how long this link to Star of Mysore archives will be available online. In short, it says that Mysore Airport Inauguration has been put off indefinitely. There is going to be nothing happening for a while. There are no flights announced and none planned by any Airline, hence no one interested in opening an empty airport. All we have are false assurances from various authorities and ministers. SOM report claims that all that is false. Saga continues....
Star of Mysore link: http://starofmysore.com/main.asp?type=news

SCROLL DOWN TO READ UPDATES PREVIOUS UPDATES.

MAIN ARTICLE:

OK, here is a bit of disappointing news, if true. Indian Express online today says that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is not going to visit Mysore and conduct inspection before Dasara. They do not have the time to conduct this detailed and elaborate inspection at this time. The earliest inspection may be done sometime after December.

What does this mean to you and me? Well, nothing much really, no Airline had come forward to operate to and from Mysore to any point anyway. Global Vectra Helicopters had made a statement that they would like to operate a helicopter service. Well, that's going to be too bloody expensive, pardon my French.

Now, to save face, the State Government may still go ahead and inaugurate the Airport. Since it won't mean much, the same can be symbolic. Let us Mysoreans take it on the chin, again. Can they run the Airport without DGCA permissions? Of course they can, like they used to on the grass strip that existed before, minus the Control Tower of course, maybe minus the Meteorological service for the operators (if any operator, that is), minus fueling (that facility isn't even ready), minus fire fighting services (God, I hope not).

Well, here is the silver lining: Sources have been quoted saying that the State can still operate chartered flights "at it's own risk" even if DGCA clearance is not done before Dasara. That's how chartered flights used to fly into Mysore in the past. What a tangled web we weave. This is like someone playing April fools day in September. Fingers crossed and hope to fly!

UPDATED 19 September: No charter flight into MYQ Airport! What happened? Sri Sri Ravishankar arrived by Road to inaugurate Dasara. The Chief Minister arrived by Helicopter and landed at Lalitha Mahal Helipad. No one came in any chartered Kingfisher Aircraft like it had been announced before!

UPDATED on 16 September: Latest report says the Chief Minister and his entourage and Sri Sri Ravishankar and entourage are going to be landing at the new Mysore Airport (MYQ) on the 19th of September in a chartered ATR Aircraft. However, this will be a one off flight and is not the real inauguration of the Airport. The "official" inauguration may be on the 22nd of September when Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel visits Mysore. Don't know how far this is true either. Earlier report spoke of the PM visiting and inaugurating the Airport.

Latest from Mysore's paper says that Kingfisher will fly between Bangalore and Mysore in an ATR 42 (50 seat) between 22nd and 26th of September. Kingfisher will then start weekend services from Mysore to other destination such as Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa! Have they been reading my blog? hehehe...

20 comments:

Vishwas Krishna said...

Do you think there will be enough business for the airlines to operate profitably? I'm somehow very sceptical about people using air transport in large numbers in Mysore.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks for your question Vishwas. This is a moot point of course. Viability of air services depends on a lot of things and it is also a long term effort at developing new sectors. That would be a blog in itself.

However, you hit the nail on the head with your comment when you say that you are skeptical about people using air transport in large numbers in Mysore. What type and capacity of Aircraft can be operated to make it viable? Can the Boeings and Airbus be viable? Absolutely not. Are medium turboprops be viable? Not at the moment, not an ATR 72 that can take 68 passengers. Maybe other Aircraft of lesser capacity and lesser operating expense can do the job. It also depends on whether these flights connect with other long distance/International flights from a major airport and also stand alone flights connecting point to point between some major cities.

When I started routes and sectors out of Singapore (and previously in other countries too), I had to go into a lot of things before deciding on what route makes sense and why, what type of Aircraft made sense and why, what was the scope for expansion or consolidation etc. Honestly, I have not done a similar exercise in Mysore as of now to say what sectors make sense but from talking to people there in the business, it seems that there may be some viable sectors and these would need to be developed. That manes investment and that is something most Airlines these days don't have and is in short supply!

Swaram said...

April fools day in September - Exactly that!

Ridiculous isn't it? Do they think ppl r dumb n don't they just realize importance of our 'Life'! It might be just some person for them but nt for the persons associated!

God grant them gud-will!

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Swaram: Latest: The Airport operator's representative says that all parameters for safety of operations have been met, it is only that DGCA isn't there to certify the facilities. An Airline that wants to start, therefore, must do a safety audit before commencing any operation so that they are satisfied with the arrangements.

Since none of the Airline operators have evinced any interest so far,this is also not forthcoming I guess. Hence, the only other option is for the State (if they really want to do this) to charter someone else's Aircraft for some ad hoc flights. There is no confirmation from the State Government that they indeed want to do this, as of now.

Whatever they do, I hope they do it right and not short cut anything just to save face and open "on time". We've been delayed by a few decades, better this thing is done properly and re-thought, in interest of air safety. I'll post any updates that comes along. Thanks for your comment, people cannot be taken for granted anymore.

YOSEE said...

I am also rather skeptical about expectations of huge traffic to Mysore. As it is, Mys.is not all that far from the major airport BLR. From BLR, there's a bus every 10mins. Shatabdi train takes only 2 hrs. and there's talk of a bullet train too! The Highway is now good, car takes barely 2hrs.if one starts early. Mysore is not such a big business centre that it needs air connection with capital cities. most visitors are tourists , who would any way include BLR. in their intinerary.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Hi Yosee, since I have been up and down the last few months, I've noticed that when my plane lands in BLR airport at night from Singapore, it takes me at least 4 hours by taxi to Mysore. If I take the bus to BLR city and then another bus to Mysore, that would be 6 hours (friend of mine did this). So, if there is a connection by air, I'd take it (and lots of others getting off ultra long US flights would also do so), coz the flight is about 20 minutes to Mysore and from Mysore airport to my house, even in traffic is another 20 minutes. You are indeed right about connecting capital cities, there isn't any traffic I think.

Some suggested feasible routes could be Coimbatore (takes less than 30 minutes from Mysore by air) or Cochin more than 12 hours by road (45 mins top by air), Goa is 14 hours by bad roads (around 1 hour by air). Mysore Goa is a tourism circuit that can be developed according to my sources.

Shatabdi from Chennai to Mysore takes 7 hrs. By air its around an hour tops. Finding 10 passengers to do this may not be difficult. That's why type and capacity/operating cost of the Aircraft is very important. By simply deploying the ATR's won't make it work. That's why no airline is looking at Mysore right now.

I like the idea of Bullet train. The drawback is that the tracks are right now not suited for those speeds. It took them more than 10 years to convert the line to broad gauge so I am skeptical. The other thing is that unlike Japan, here we have people, cattle, even traffic moving from one side of the track to the other. Doing Bullet train speeds means the entire track has to be either elevated or walled. Hence I am skeptical on that front. Hitting cattle at 300 Kms per hour spells doomsday for all on board! Please let me know if you think of any other route that could work, with a small capacity Aircraft. Would be fun to research this. Thanks for your input.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

My comment above sounds like I want an air service only for myself! Yosee and other readers, if you disagree with my comment above, especially on routes, I would love to hear back from you and see if this can be a viable concept or not and perhaps suggest routes/destinations that you would think as being somewhat feasible.

Having an airport and air connectivity could bring in commerce to Mysore. A few years back, WIPRO Azim Premji had said that he'd move all his facilities to Mysore if an Airport was built. Similarly, industry could be enticed I suppose. Again, I'd love to get some feed back. Thanks.

YOSEE said...

Yeah ok, so some high-flyers would be interested - when recession improves.But somehow, Mysore has always been jinxed where industry is concerned. THey tried to bring in many on the Nanjangud route, but only a few are standing. In the Industrial area side,mostly manufacturing units are doing OK but they dont seem to have too many people dashing around on business. Only Infosys contributes heavy traffic.
Development in Mysore has been on "trying out" basis since Devraj Urs time, but our laid back city has resolutely stuck to its genteel Cultural Capital image, hardly advancing from the leisurly ambience immortalised in RK Narayan's stories.( y'kno what they say,if BLR is Aishwarya Rai,Mysore is Biccholey Gowramma !) So the major target has to be The Tourist.

And cost is a major consideration for 80% of travelers .( The other fraction from the stratosphere can take The Golden Chariot I guess :-))

Airconnection and Commerce in Mys. - its like the chicken and the Egg conundrum :-)Which needs to come first ?

YOSEE said...

BTW, if and when Mallya or Murdoch aim a craft at Mysore, i will be among the first to book a seat.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Yosee: True, what's with Industry in Mysore? So many have failed there that I know of and probably many more that I don't know of! Unfortunate isn't it?

LOL on the Biccholey Gowramma, had me in splits with this one! hehehe...

Nagesh.MVS said...

Nice post..

Work From Home

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Nagesh MVS.

Dew said...

Hey Captain,

Not sure if you came across this news.... but again in the news paper they announced today that another MIG crashed causing another pilot's death :( this is getting on to my nerves now wondering why we are being careless time and again!! I was even more disappointed to see that the news was printed in one corner of the paper...does it mean it was of less importance??? And the front page article flashed about the new CM's post that's become the latest craze for people...! I mean what the helll ...

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Dew: I heard about this one as it just made cursory news and no one went on to give details. I could not even get the right model of Aircraft that crashed. That's the point, in India non VIP lives are of lesser value. It always seems that way. But IAF's safety record, as I mentioned in a comment above, is abysmal. Problem is that they are almost above board and no one can question their "closed" inquiries and committees that go into their inquiries. There is a sea of difference between their operating standards and procedures and what we do in civil aviation. They don't even have the same rules of flying as civil you know. Their Aircraft follow completely different airworthiness and training standards. That's all fine because their operating environment is different but these are issues that they really need to look seriously into if we are not loose many more young lives like this. Media in India won't take such activism because there are no celebrities involved. Sad.

Indrani said...

For me a Mysore flight would be of not much advantage... getting to airport itself takes 2 hrs, then wait for flight formalities. Those running short of time and with hectic business schedules it may prove useful. Those Mig-21s are flying coffins. And you rightly said media coverage is for celebrities.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Indrani. Why the IAF continues to fly MiG21s is a real mystery. This one was a training sortie says news on the web. Such an unreliable Aircraft and the resulting loss of life should be unacceptable. There's not even a peep from the Government on this. No explanations sought by media and none given by the Defense Ministry. How unfortunate. This was discussed in the comment section of my last post on YSR Helicopter crash.

Rajesh said...

Growing India should have air service to every big city. But the real concern is does these cities have enough population who can afford travel by air without the airline adding to their losses

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Rajesh: Thanks for your comment. Tier II and II cities in India do need air connectivity. There are models that can be adopted to get things going in order for some of the sectors to be viable. Again, the key is going to developing certain sectors and introducing Aircraft of the right type and capacity that would make it viable.

SKY said...

I'd love to see commercial service to MYQ. However, I would also love to see GA take off in the airport in a big way. We need good flight training facilities in India and Mysore airport is ideally suited for it - no commercial activity for now, good sized city to host student population, and enough people with disposable incomes to support a flying club. If Baramati can have a good flying club/school, so can Mysore. The airport looks a lot better than Jakkur for one.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

SKY: Thanks and I agree with you about GA activity. We need that at least to start using the Airport. At the moment, charter flights come and go are rare intervals, like they used to even when there was only a grass strip. I don't know what everyone's thinking there. I am going to Mysore/BLR next week, have meetings with some guys who want to do something in GA, lets see what happens.