Sunday, September 02, 2007

Waiting in the wings to emerge as South India’s air traffic hub

Waiting in the wings to emerge as South India’s air traffic hub
Anshul Dhamija | TNN

Bangalore: After establishing its prominence in IT and hospitality, the city is fast emerging as a hub for international air traffic. Once the Bangalore International Airport at Devanahalli becomes operational by early next year, three lead airlines — Air India, Jet Airways, and Kingfisher — will make Bangalore their key gateway to the US and Europe.
After connecting Mumbai-New York and New Delhi-New York by early next year, Air India will also launch direct air flights to San Francisco.
“We plan to start direct flights from Bangalore to San Francisco. We’re looking to make the city an international hub. Besides adding more direct flights to the US, we will directly link the city to our European hub,’’ said V Thulasidas, chairman, Air India. The national carrier is currently in the process of finalising its hub in Europe.
As per BIAL estimates, over 60% of international passenger traffic to Bangalore is from the US and Europe. BIAL is expecting a passenger traffic of 10 million, of which, over 30% accounts for international traffic. “It’s estimated that international passenger traffic from US and Europe to the city is growing between 10-15% annually, while outbound traffic to these destinations is recording a growth between 20 and 30%, with tech workers accounting for the major chunk,’’said industry observers.
Even though the government is yet to take a decision to allow airlines to fly on international routes ahead of the five-year rule, Kingfisher will look to fly from next year. “Air Deccan, which will complete five years of operations next year, will be eligible to fly internationally and is expected to share some of its routes with Kingfisher,’’ said sources.
Jet Airways, too, is waiting for the BIAL airport to be opened to start its daily nonstop operations to the US. With Brussels as its European hub, the airline will connect Bangalore with daily flights to the European region.
Meanwhile, Kingfisher also has plans of making Bangalore as its domestic hub. The airline is looking for a separate terminal building at the BIAL airport, said sources.
When contacted, BIAL officials said: “The airport was in high-level talks with a number of airlines in regards to making Bangalore as a hub.’’ At present, the airline operates 31 daily flights out of Bangalore connecting 20 destinations across the country.


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