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Hyderabad, Bangalore fasten seatbelts for take-off

In less than a month from now, Bangalore and Hyderabad will get their swanky new airports, report BR Srikanth and Ashok Das.
By BR Srikanth and Ashok Das | Hindustan Times, Bangalore/hyderabad
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2008 01:11 AM IST

In less than a month from now, Bangalore and Hyderabad will get their swanky new airports. And the Greenfield Bengaluru International Airport and International Airport at Shamsabad promise to make flying a new and wonderful experience for the two states' on-the-move crowd.

Commercial jets will descend on the Greenfield airport from March 30, after it is inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. An army of ground staff and security men are racing to get all systems in place for the inaugural flight - an Air India flight bound for Singapore. They have a tough task on their hands as work on the access road from the capital is behind schedule.

"We are confident we will make it. As far as the airport is concerned, 90-95 per cent of the work has been completed and we'll get the rest done by March 28," Albert Brunner, CEO, Bengaluru International Airport Ltd (BIAL), said on Thursday.

Though the consortium — Unique Zurich airport, Siemens and L&T — executed the project in 33 months, the state government has slipped on the construction of the three-kilometre trumpet road connecting the airport from the Bangalore-Hyderabad National Highway. “We enlisted the services of our partner (L&T) to complete the access and service roads by March 26... We hope to have the last mile connected by then," Brunner said. According to the concession agreement, the city airport, operated by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd with Airports Authority of India (AAI), will be shut down from March 30.

For Hyderabad, its new airport will be open to commercial traffic from midnight of March 15, after a formal inauguration the previous day by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. A Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt will be the first to touch down on its tarmac. A first trial run was conducted on Tuesday.

The airport boasts of many firsts — a 4,260-metre runway and 70-metre air traffic control tower. Four conveyor belts will take the luggage of 550 passengers at a time. “The aim is to get the first bag picked up in 12 minutes and the last in 29 minutes,” a GHIAL official stated. Immigration is geared to clear formalities in 10 to 30 minutes.

Like the Bangalore airport, there are some problem areas. The planned new outer ring road is still not ready and could take another six months to a year. Similarly, work on the PV Narasimha Rao Elevated Expressway is progressing slowly.

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