Friday, August 20, 2010

FLYING INTO THE FUTURE

FLYING INTO THE FUTURE
TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Bangalore: It was slammed by some persons as being a ‘cowshed’. But, when the Rs 1,200-crore makeover of Bengaluru International Airport’s Terminal 1 is completed by 2012, it should be not only be bigger and better but also have a world-class look.
T1 will be 62,000 sq metres bigger, with a capacity to handle 17.2 million passengers annually, up from 12 million now. It’ll have a seating capacity of 5,300 chairs from the present 2,300, excluding airline lounges and food and beverage area seating.
A large number of seats will be placed at waiting areas located at the check-in departure area as well as near departure gates, where passengers take the shuttle service.
Designed by architects HOK, the roof, which will be the unifying element of the old and new blocks, will form a canopy to the main entrance, offering passengers a covered area. No more worries of getting wet during the monsoon.
On the inside, too, there will be changes, as domestic and international terminals would have clear demarcations starting from the entry.
What’s more, in 2012, international airlines would be able to fly in an Airbus A380. The airside would have a special boarding gate, termed Code F in aviation parlance, to accommodate an A380 aircraft. The existing runway too is being readied for an A380, and the airport hopes to get the required clearances from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
“When we got on board BIA, the airport was known for great efficiency and quality of operations, which it still does. But the public was not happy with certain facilities such as long security queues, insufficient seating, and the look and feel of a concrete building. We wanted to correct all this. We had two options — either to expand T1 with a replica structure or build a completely new structure and give T1 a new look. We chose the latter,” said Sanjay Reddy, MD, BIA, and vice-chairman of GVK, the company that holds a 29% stake in the airport.
Reddy pointed out that at present T1 is nearing full capacity and would not be able to handle the projected passenger traffic in the next few years.
BIA estimates that by the end of the ongoing financial year Bangalore would clock passenger traffic of 11.5 to 12 million, a growth of 15% to 20% over the previous year. In 2009-10, BIA reported passenger traffic of 9.94 million. “As per our study, Bangalore would continue to report passenger traffic growth figures of 15-20% year-on-year,” said Reddy.
The latest study on passenger traffic done by BIA has estimated that by 2025 Bangalore would touch 40 million passengers per annum. This is 75% higher than the previous passenger traffic projection of 22-23 million for the same period, which came out of a study done by BIA in 2005.
Reddy said the expanded T1 would reach full capacity by 2014-2015, by which time BIA would have Terminal 2 (T2) up and running with a second runway as well. “We are going to start the construction of T2 soon and will complete it by 2015,” he said.
HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINK
On the proposed high-speed rail link between BIA and Bangalore city, G V Krishna Reddy, chairman, GVK, said, “The state government asked whether BIA could bear some part of the cost. We said we’d have to get returns from that investment and have asked the government how that could happen. The government still doesn’t have an answer.”
AIRPORT INAUGURATION
It’s been 2 years since BIA took off and the airport is yet to have a formal inauguration. On May 24, 2008, Albert Brunner, the then CEO of BIA, inaugurated the airport without much fanfare. Krishna Reddy has different plans: “When work on T1 gets completed in 2012, we’ll have a formal inauguration by none less than the Prime Minister. I assure you that.”

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