Mumbai: Some of India’s largest corporate houses will soon have to find new homes for their corporate and private jets that have until now been parked at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.
The leases on these hangars have expired and with the Mumbai International Airport Ltd (Mial) in no mood to extend them, companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd, Tata group, Essar group, Raymond Ltd, Air Works India Engineering Pvt. Ltd and Indamer Co. Pvt. Ltd will have to move.
Confirming the development, Mial managing director G.V. Sanjay Reddy said: “We have served eviction notices on the firms that are having hangars at Mumbai airport as the leases of them had already expired. We are going to talk to them to sort out the issues.” Representatives of the hangars also confirmed that they have got eviction notices from Mial.
The hangars at Mumbai airport for these corporations are used to maintain and park the fleet of business aircraft or private jets.
While corporations such as Reliance and Taj Air (of the Tata group) maintain their own fleet, companies such as Air Works and Indamer manage fleets for other companies, among them Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-Adag). Wire service PTI had reported on 29 April that R-Adag had cancelled its contract with Air Works following the mysterious death of an Air Works employee who had discovered stones in the petrol tank of a helicopter that is used by group chairman Anil Ambani. However, Ravi Menon, director of Air Works, said the company had not received any such information from R-Adag.
Mial, the GVK Group firm that runs Mumbai airport, does not want to extend the leases because it can get get more money from developing the space, and has consequently asked the firms to vacate the space. It plans to redevelop the maximum available land for hotels and other related services to boost its non-aeronautical revenue.
Also, Mial claims the hangars are a safety risk.
“These hangars are currently located very close to the runway. This is violating the norms of Directorate General of Civil Aviation,” Reddy of Mial said. “Either they will have to shift to Juhu or relocate to some other part of the airport. We have not taken any decision on this, but we are discussing.”
The Juhu helibase, in the western suburbs of Mumbai, is near the airport, which is on the east side. Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd and other oil exploration firms use it to fly helicopters to reach their offshore rigs. Menon of Air Works said his firm would challenge the decision in court. “Some of us have decided to approach court to sort out the matter. We have already filed a petition with city’s civil court to secure a stay. Now we will also take it up with Mumbai airport authorities,” he said.
Another senior executive with a company that has a hangar at Mumbai international airport, said that shifting to Juhu is impractical.
“Private planes of this kind cannot land or be maintained at Juhu helibase. The runway is not capable of handling the current fleet of private planes,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Executives from Reliance Industries declined to comment.