Bangalore Airport woos stakeholders in Chennai

With a large and impressive infrastructure in both passenger and cargo front, officials of the Bangalore International Airport Ltd – operator of Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in Bengaluru, – made a strong case among the airline and airport user community in Chennai to use the airport as the gateway for their needs.

Sources in the trade claimed that in the last few years nearly 25 per cent of the cargo had already got diverted to either Bangalore or Hyderabad airports due to various infrastructure-related issues at the Chennai airport.

“Ours is a phenomenal growth story. The trade in Chennai and other catchment areas of the State can use the Bangalore airport for their needs,” Arun Chandra, Assistant Vice President, Aviation Business, BIAL, urged the airline community in Chennai on Wednesday.

Traffic growth

Since starting operations in 2008, in the first year the airport handled 8.5 million passengers and 1,32,000 tonnes of cargo. The airport reached its 50th million passenger by 2012 crossed 100 million passengers in 2016 – that’s when the airport’s expansion started. “The traffic growth at the airport was way ahead of what anybody could have forecasted,” he said.

The Bangalore airport – India’s third busiest after Delhi and Mumbai – in the calendar year 2023 handled 37.2 million passengers and 4,23,000 tonne of cargo with 36 airlines and 12 freighters operating at the airport with connections to 70 domestic and 25 international destinations. “By the end of the current decade, the airport should be able to handle 75-80 million passengers annually,” he added.

The growth story was not just in passenger handling but also in the cargo that has been witnessing 3X growth for every ten years since the start. The airport in the first year of operations handled 1,32,126 tonne, which grew by 3X to 3,48,398 tonne in 2018 and by 3X to 11,40,000 tonne by 2028. “We estimate before the end of this decade, the total annual cargo capacity at the airport will be over 1 million tonne,” he said.

Covid slowdown

In 2016, the second major expansion plan started on the runway, apron, cargo facilities and taxiways with a total cost of nearly $2.5 billion. In 2019, the airport opened its second runway. Covid slowed down the expansion programme but the expansion continued, he said.

Chandra said airlines are not just confined to traditional markets of Delhi and Mumbai but looking at the south by increasing direct connections from Bangalore to many international destinations. This includes Sydney, Addis Ababa, Munich, Amsterdam and San Francisco. Virgin will soon start a direct flight to London and IndiGo to Phuket and Denpasar, he added.

Fletcher Samuel, Senior Manager, Cargo Business, BIAL, there is a the wide catchment in less than 500 km from the airport with 7-12 hours being the average trucking time from major industrial and airport locations in south India to Bangalore airport,

Bangalore airport has the largest cargo processing capacity of 7,15,000 tonnes per annum in south India, he said. The airport has facilities ranging from handling general cargo to cold chain, international express and value added services, he added.

J Krishnan of S Natesa Iyer Logistics LLP, said Bangalore airport has benefitted from the pitfalls facing legacy airports where cities grew around the infrastructure effectively styming expansion. The future expansion plans have also been drawn up incorporating latest technological advances and sustainable practices This customer focus will propel their success and pose a serious threat to the established and choked airport at Chennai, he said.

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