Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bengaluru International Airport records slump in passenger traffic

Bengaluru International Airport records slump in passenger traffic

K.V. Subramanya
Only 8.7 million passengers as against 13 million projected for first year
Promoters attribute slump to economic slowdown

Study puts figure at 14 million by 2013-14

— FILE PHOTO: G.R.N.Somashekar

Passenger turnout in the first year has belied the projections of Bengaluru International Airport Ltd.
CHICKABALLAPUR: Passenger traffic (domestic and international) at Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) at Devanahalli dropped by 14 per cent from the previous financial year (in comparison with passenger traffic at HAL airport), and the situation is unlikely to change in the near future.

While commencing commercial operations on May 24, 2008, promoters of Bengaluru International Airport Ltd. (BIAL) had forecast that it would handle 13 million passengers in the first year. Only 8.7 million passengers used the airport till May 23, 2009. The slump has been attributed to the economic slowdown.

A study conducted by BIAL has indicated that passenger traffic will approximately touch nine million this year. The figure is likely to touch 14 million only by 2013-14.

“Even with the current slowdown, the traffic figures in this region are set to stabilise and grow at a steady pace. International passenger traffic at BIA increased by 7 per cent as many new international airlines started operations from here,” BIAL Chief Executive Officer Marcel Hungerbuehler told The Hindu on Wednesday while providing the highlights of the study. BIAL would continue to realise its master plan and expand to accommodate increased traffic in terms of aircraft movement and passengers, he said.

With the existing infrastructure, the airport can easily handle the passenger traffic for the next couple of years. BIA’s next expansion, expected to begin in early 2010, will include extending the apron from 42 aircraft parking stands to 62. Additionally, the existing terminal building will be expanded to accommodate the expected increase in passenger traffic, Mr.Hungerbuehler said.

The next step would be construction of the second terminal and runway: a mirror image of the present airport infrastructure. “From this, you will gather that this airport will be a work in progress project for the next 10 to 15 years with gradual but continuous expansion phases, the way it was initially envisioned and planned,” he said.


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