With the new international airport set to open March 30 in India's silicon city, domestic and foreign airlines are waiting in the wings to launch new services and increase frequencies from this southern hub to new and existing destinations both in India and abroad.
"We are getting a lot of enquiries from leading carriers operating in the domestic and international circuits," said Marcel Hunger Buehler, the chief executive for Bangalore International Airport Ltd.
"Many of them have come calling to inspect the facilities, including the four-km runway, parking bays, apron capacity, taxiways, air traffic control (ATC) and turn-around-time for quick landing and departure," Buehler told IANS at the project site in Devanahalli, around 37 km from the heart of the garden city.
"With the initial capacity of the greenfield airport being twice that of the existing airport in the city, airlines will have enough space to operate many flights efficiently and economically from day one. Domestic and international airlines can even scale their operations during peak and non-peak hours."
Bangalore has the third busiest airport in the country after Mumbai and Delhi due to the phenomenal growth of air traffic over the past three-four years, largely driven by a booming IT sector and all-round economic growth in the country.
"Bangalore airport has witnessed the fastest growth (30-35 percent) in the country in terms of passengers and cargo since our consortium signed the concession agreement (CA) with the central and state governments in July 2004 and took up construction a year later," Buehler said.
"When the 50-year-old state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) airport in the city surpassed the projected annual growth of eight million passengers in 2006-07, we had to revise the blueprint to club the first phase with the second phase for expanding the capacity to handle 10-12 million passengers over the next two-three years."
As part of the CA, the HAL airport will shut down for civilian operations March 29 midnight and all flights, including feeder services, will have to use the new airport.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to formally inaugurate the airport March 28.
"Hong Kong-based Dragon Air and Oman Air, the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman, have already sought clearance to operate daily service from the new airport. Existing international airlines, such as Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Gulf Air and Emirates plan to increase the number of flights a week to provide better connectivity and more capacity."
"Similarly, domestic carriers such as Jet Airways and Kingfisher will launch international flights to Europe and the US in the coming months. We expect other airlines, including Air India and Malaysian Airlines to increase services to existing and newer destinations."
Passenger traffic from Bangalore is projected to increase by 26-30 percent in fiscal 2008-09 on domestic and international routes to achieve an annual growth rate of 40 percent.
Air cargo traffic is also poised to grow by about 30 percent due to huge capacity increase to handle about 300,000 tonnes of freight annually.
"In the long-run, Bengaluru airport will be positioned as a strategic hub in southern India for east-bound and west-bound flights, providing global airlines an alternative to Mumbai in the west and Delhi in the north."
"Our game plan is to take up the next phase of expansion in 12-18 months at an estimated cost of Rs.25 billion ($625 million) to handle 15 million passengers annually by 2014-15, with a second runaway to facilitate landing and taking-off every minute by an aircraft," Brunner said.
As against 24-26 flights every hour at the city airport during peak hours, the new airport will be able to operate 30 flights during the same time.
The combined first phase of the project has a fully air-conditioned central terminal for domestic and international passengers, rapid exits, 42 aircraft stands, eight passenger boarding bridges, 54 check-in counters and five belts, including two double belts to handle arrival baggage of 10 flights at a time.
Located on the east of Bangalore-Hyderabad national highway (NH7) and spread over 3,900 acres, the swanky airport will have parking place for about 2,000 cars at any given time, various auxiliary buildings, a fuel farm, rescue and fire fighting facilities, ground support equipment, airline support facilities, two major cargo warehouses and flight kitchens.
Built on a public-private partnership model, the airport will be operated by BIAL, a consortium of Unique Zurich Airport and Siemens Projects Ventures and Larson and Toubro with a combined equity stake of 74 percent and two state promoters Karnataka State Investment and Industrial Development Corp and Airports Authority of India holding the remaining 26 percent stake.