Monday, October 31, 2005

Hard times ahead for city airport authorities

Hard times ahead for city airport authorities

The Hindu

From early Monday morning, the airport will have to accommodate 17 additional flights

Bangalore: The HAL Bangalore airport is bursting at its seams. More so now with several international carriers operating flights from and to the city.

There has been a rapid increase in domestic and international air traffic to Bangalore with the airport now handling 4.5 million passengers a year. There was a 26 per cent growth in traffic within one year, according to airport officials.

From early Monday morning, Bangalore airport will have to accommodate 17 additional flights each week with Air France, British Airways and North West-KLM flying in here. The airport has geared itself to deal with the influx starting Sunday night itself, though it may find it quite difficult if more than two flights land around the same time. Baggage clearance, customs and immigration check will test the available human resources and equipment to the maximum.


Airport authorities say that while there may be crowding in the international terminal and baggage handling areas, they expect to cope with the rush as there will be around an hour's time between various international flights. But the terminal is quite small and passengers may have to be prepared for long queues.

Expansion impossible

The problem is that the international terminal cannot be expanded any more as there is no space.

The airport apron is cramped and cannot accommodate more than six aircraft of different configurations at any given time. The domestic terminal is also crowded because of additional flights and earlier this week, when flights were rescheduled due to bad weather, many passengers had to wait outside.

Air France has planned five flights a week between Bangalore and Paris with Airbus A-330. British Airways has scheduled five flights a week from Bangalore to London using Boeing 777.

International carriers

The number of international carriers using Bangalore airport has increased to 10 with Malaysian, Singapore, Thai, SriLankan, Royal Nepal, Gulf and Lufthansa airlines operating flights.

Air India and Indian Airlines also operate international flights from here and now Jet Airways and Air Sahara operate flights to Colombo through Chennai.

Third busiest

According to airport authorities here, Bangalore is the third busiest airport in the country after Mumbai and Delhi. The HAL airport has to handle about 220 flight movements a day, of both civil and military aircraft.

They are hoping for the best and the completion of the new international airport at Devanahalli within three years as scheduled.


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