Friday, November 30, 2007

International airlines rush to touch down on Bangalore

International airlines rush to touch down on Bangalore
The Economic Times

INTERNATIONAL air carriers are making a beeline for connecting Bangalore. Swiss Air, Qatar Airways, Oman Air and Etihad are planning to touch Bangalore while US-based Continental and Northwest are looking at launching operations from the city.
These airlines will look at covering Bangalore once the new greenfield airport at Devanahalli starts operations from March 2008. With these new entrants, the number of international carriers operating out of the city is expected to go up from the existing the 12 to around 20 from the new airport. International traffic too is expected to go up from 1.4 million to over 2 million next year. According to Airports Authority of India (AAI), Bangalore reported highest growth in international passenger traffic; about 40% as against the national average of 16% from September 2006 to August 2007.
“Considering that corporate international travel is highest out of Bangalore, the city has become a strategic location in India. We plan to launch flights from Bangalore to Doha and Qatar early next year. Frequency of operations is subject to bilaterals. Meanwhile, we have already set up an office in Bangalore,” Qatar’s regional manager, Naveen Chawla, said.
Connectivity to the Gulf from the city is catered by Emirates, Air Arabia and Gulf Air besides domestic carrier Air India. Oman and Etihad is set to join the list soon and domestic carrier Deccan is also eyeing the Gulf region. Acting Country Manager of Etihad Airways Neerja Bhatia says, “we are very keen on operating flights from Bangalore to Abu Dhabi. We have requested the Indian government for traffic rights. Ideally we would want to launch daily flights from Bangalore.”
Connectivity to the US and Europe is also set to improve with international and domestic carriers such as Air India, Jet and Kingfisher Airlines planning to start operations to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Canada and London. Existing international carriers such as Lufthansa and British Airways too could look at increasing their seat capacity from Bangalore.


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