Mysore: Airport in search of flights

Now that the city has an airport with no flights,  Mysore is faced with the problem of generating passenger and cargo traffic that would make it worthwhile for airlines to come in here.  A recent seminar on the issue came up with the idea that Mysore-based IT corporates and other business establishments should hold out a promise of minumum seats occupancy to lure the airlines.

The idea doesn’t seem all that bright or workable because no airline can be expected make its business decisions on the minimum seats guaranteed  by a few corporates. Anyway,  no such assurance can be binding on individual companies.  Besides, airlines are reported to be looking for a state subsidy by way of a cut in fuel tax (27 perecent in Karnataka).

Air-traffic projection by Infosys has it that 800 of its employees  would use air services every week to Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. To be meaningful such projection ought to be able to give a break-down, city-wise, and also in terms of seat-occupancy on weekdays,  and weekends.

It doesn’t require much study to say that much of the corporate employees traffic out of Mysore is on weekends. Check the Chennai Shadabthi bookings from Mysore on Friday/Saturday. Viewed in this perspective, Mysore could at best function a weekend airport, to start with.

Among other wild ideas that spring to mind:
1) Make Mysore a cargo hub for carrying  vegetables, fruits, flowers, and other perishables from distrcts and nearby Nilgiris to  major market centre. This would need deep-freeze storage facility.
2) Airlines operating from Mysore would do well to  look at traffic to tier-2 destinations such as Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy, Bellary, Mangalore, Tirupathi, Cochin.
3) The Airports Authority of India  could consider developing  a shopping complex for air passengers and also local residents, in view of the relative proximity of the airport to the city limits.
4) Doubling the railway track could attract air traffic from towns on railway route.
5) Early completion of the Mysore-Bangalore expressway would make Mysore a credible alternative for air passengers in Bididi, Kengari and other Bangalore suburbs on the Mysore-end.

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Women in combat forces

We invest nearly Rs.11 crores  on training a fighter pilot.  And the investment is recovered over nearly 14 years,  according Vice-Chief-of-Air Staff Air Marahal P K Barbora.  Viewed in this perspective,  he reckons,  it is not feasible to keep women fighter pilots  in service once they get married.

As he would put it, constraints crop up the moment they get into the family way.  Besides, there are concerns about what could happen,  if women officers were taken POWs  during combat operations.

Air Vice-chief’s plain speaking hasn’t apparently found favour with the government top brass.  A newspaper report citing highly placed  sources said,  ‘the stated policy of the government –  IAF’s doors are  open for induction of women in non-combat operations –  requires  no further elaboration’.

That the officially stated position doesn’t contradict what the air  marshal said is not the point.  It is that a high-ranking Air Force officer sought to explain to the media  something he need not have done.  In so doing ,  Air Marshal Barbora violated the most important of  policy guidelines, which reads,  ‘don’t ask,  don’t tell’.  There are certain issues media wouldn’t raise;  and the government doesn’t feel obliged to explain.

A matter of accountability

It is not uncommon for our political leaders to  flout regulations.  But, when challenged,  it is not leader-like  to  blame the violation on lesser mortals.  BJP chief Rajnath Singh,  with a few other party leaders took off   in a chartered eight-seater plane from an unlit airstrip in Jharkand  after dusk. The airstrip where no nightlanding/takeoff is allowed,  was lit up with the headlights of jeeps and other vehicles on VIP convoy  that were lined up along the runway.

A clear violation of safety norms,  the BJP leadership has passed the buck,  saying that the night take-off was  ‘entirely the pilot’s decision’.  Admittedly,  the pilot has some explaining to do.  But can his VIP passenger be allowed to get away with it ?  Maybe the bright idea for taking off under jeep lights was the pilot’s,  but there was no way he could have acted on it without the concurrance of his VIP passengers.   BJP’s denial of any responsibility for the incident doesn’t enhance the image of its leader.  Isn’t Mr Singh accountable for whatever happened ?  Isn’t leadership about owning up,  instead of abdicating,  responsibility in such sticky situation ?