A proud moment in history

Posted: 30 September 2008 | Mr. Albert Brunner, CEO, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) | No comments yet

The North of Bangalore witnessed an avalanche of activities during the second half of 2007. By then, Bangalore’s Greenfield International Airport was in its last stage of completion, in preparation for its launch in March 2008. An enthusiastic team of BIAL employees and staff from the service provider such as ground handling, food and beverage, flight catering, retail and cargo were all geared for the grand Airport Opening Day. Unfortunately, the Airport Opening Day (AOD) was delayed by almost two months, holding-up the commercial operations till 24 May 2008 (the original airport opening date was 2 April 2008).

The North of Bangalore witnessed an avalanche of activities during the second half of 2007. By then, Bangalore’s Greenfield International Airport was in its last stage of completion, in preparation for its launch in March 2008. An enthusiastic team of BIAL employees and staff from the service provider such as ground handling, food and beverage, flight catering, retail and cargo were all geared for the grand Airport Opening Day. Unfortunately, the Airport Opening Day (AOD) was delayed by almost two months, holding-up the commercial operations till 24 May 2008 (the original airport opening date was 2 April 2008).

The airport readiness plan was revisited time and again to ensure all primary and secondary core processes within the airport were foolproof and that all the agencies involved in the performance of these processes were established, trained and tested before the airport opening date.

Public trial: 7 March 2008

As scheduled, a public trial day was completed in a near live environment on 7 March 2008 to test that the procedures and controls were in place, successfully heralding the airport’s readiness. There were approximately 400 people waiting anxiously to welcome the first landing of the Kingfisher aircraft from Mumbai at 10:00am with guests and media onboard, shortly followed by the Air Deccan Aircraft from the then existing HAL airport.

The loud applause that followed the landing of the aircrafts was testimony to the sense of pride and achievement displayed by the airport employees and its partners. The pilots unanimously rated the runway ‘excellent’.

Airport opening

Just like other airport openings around the world, the new Bengaluru International Airport also faced some last minute challenges. The AOD was postponed three times before finally commencing operations on 24 May 2008. This delay was as a result of various factors such as the Air Traffic Control alacrity and the State elections. However, BIAL continued to remain committed to completing the mammoth project within its original deadline of 30 March 2008. BIAL also utilised the additional time to revisit its prepared routine.

It may be recalled that since the commencement of the project, Indian aviation has witnessed a surge in air traffic. The terminal building, only a year post the commencement of construction, went through expansion plans to accommodate this sudden increase in passenger traffic, propelled by the growth of economy and civil aviation liberalisation. The big challenge lay in significantly increasing the project which was already under construction, without jeopardising the initial airport opening date. Overall, BIAL had to increase the project scope by 75 per cent.

While BIAL was preparing itself to offer Bangalore its new airport, there were significant debates on several issues, the airport’s connectivity to the city being one of them. With the new airport situated 40 kilometres from the heart of the city, this seemed like a tedious journey to the travellers, especially when the existing one was barely 10 kilometres from the city centre. In addition to this was the government’s inertia in ensuring connectivity to the new airport. Fortunately, this scenario dramatically changed months before the airport opening with increased efforts by the government to improve connectivity.

By the second half of 2007, BIAL took it upon itself to ease the connectivity for passengers by building a trumpet interchange that now connects the National Highway (NH 7) to the airport. This was completed in a record time of eight months for commuters’ convenience and in time for the airport opening. It carried an additional investment of approximately USD 30 million.

During the last year, the entire city has been gearing up to improve its infrastructure in and around the airport and one could feel the pride of every contributor involved in the project. The city was committed to making the airport a success by helping to ease the connectivity woes. As a result of this, the airport is now linked to the city by a six lane highway. Also, an express highway and a rail link are in the planning stages.

Transportation services

Before the opening, there were a lot of reports, especially by the media, that the connectivity to the new airport is insufficient. However, soon after the airport began operations, this criticism was silenced almost instantly. Though it is true that the connectivity issue had not been addressed earlier, the huge efforts taken by the Government of Karnataka in the short space of time has to be appreciated and applauded.

Passengers can now reach the airport from the centre of the city in 45 to 60 minutes. Numerous passengers have also written to BIAL with encouraging appreciation towards the convenient and comfortable road travel options made available.

From air-conditioned buses to limousines, the airport offers passengers a wide array of transport options to suit everyone’s need and budget.

For the first time at an Indian airport, Deccan Aviation launched their helicopter shuttle service to add to an already superb array of travel services for the visitors. A second partner, that is, Global Vectra Helicorp with a similar service offering will also begin its operations in October 2008.

The grand opening day

Realising the dream of giving Bangalore an airport of world class standards has not been an easy one. If not for the relentless commitment and enthusiasm of the thousands of people involved in the making of the airport, the many complex issues faced could have slackened the pace and the outcome. Therefore, we take pride in saying that despite all odds, despite a substantial increase in project costs and investments, we remained focused on our deadline of completing the project in 33 months.

The night of 23 May 2008 was rife with excitement. An Air India flight IC 609 from Mumbai was the first flight to land at the new airport at 22:00 hours. Shortly after, the same flight departed for Singapore from Bengaluru International Airport just past midnight on 24 May 2008, declaring the airport operational.

Salient features of the airport

On a footprint of eight acres of land, the terminal building is spread over 71,000 square metres and built to comply with the peak hour demand of approximately 3,000 passengers per hour. The airport is equipped to handle the increasing traffic volume for the next few years. Phase one, which includes the three level terminals building at Bengaluru International Airport, brings considerable respite to the average passenger through elimination of long queues and outdated dual check-in processes. The terminal building also has baby care facilities for mothers looking for diaper changing stations and private nursing rooms.

Special attention has been paid during planning of the terminal building for all types of passengers, especially differently abled and elderly passengers. Travellers from the new airport can avail of the Columbia Asia chemist and clinic that will provide round the clock high medical care to travellers in a clean and caring environment.

The airport is equipped with 53 check-in counters and 18 self check-in counters. Passengers travelling through Bengaluru International Airport are relieved of queuing up to screen their check-in baggage, thanks to the seamless check-in process with post check-in screening. The foolproof, five level baggage screening process incorporated at the new airport is amongst the first in the country.

The Bengaluru International Airport’s car park can accommodate 2,000 cars and has 10 bus bays. The system used for the parking management is fully automated, efficient and transparent and is provided by SKIDATA™, a leading global provider of car park systems at airports. Central Parking Solutions, India’s largest car park operator, manages parking at the new airport.


There are eight domestic airlines operating from the Bengaluru International Airport and these include:

  • Jet Airways
  • JetLite
  • Air India
  • Deccan Airways
  • Kingfisher Airlines
  • Indigo
  • Spice Jet
  • Paramount Airways

Fourteen international airlines operate from the new airport, including Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air India, Sri Lankan Airways, Gulf Air, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Thai Airways and Air Arabia. Newer routes are in the pipeline with more international airlines approaching the new airport to start operations. With these new routes and more that are expected, Bangalore is poised to become an important aviation hub for the South of India.
Dragonair, a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific has started its operations from Bengaluru International Airport. Other international passenger flights which commenced operations from the new airport since 24 May includes:

  • Air Mauritius (to Mauritius)
  • Tiger Airways (to Singapore)
  • Dragon Air (to China)
  • Oman Air (to Oman)

They have all begun operations from Bangalore due to the city’s attractive air traveller profile and the increased capacity of the airport. Plus, Indian carriers have now entered international routes from Bangalore with Kingfisher flying to London and Jet soon to be connecting Bangalore to Brussels.

The cargo facilities at the Bengaluru International Airport is used by domestic freighters apart from six international freighters which include Singapore, Lufthansa, Qatar, Etihad, Sri-Lankan Cargo, Air India and Emirates. Two new freighters flights, Expo air and Jett8 Cargo have also been introduced since the Airport was functional.

Shopping at the new airport

BIAL is committed to establishing the new Bengaluru International Airport as one of India’s leading airports in terms of quality and efficiency and set a benchmark for the future commercial development of Indian airports. The opening of the new Bengaluru International Airport has set a standard for travel retail at airports in India and there is now a combination of international and domestic brands. The inspiration for the design of layouts and outlets comes from the flowers and leaves of the famous Lal Bagh gardens in Bangalore.

The international departure section houses one of the largest duty free outlets in India, selling the best of alcohol, cigarettes, luxury and premium perfumes, cosmetics, souvenirs, gifts, arts and crafts from local artisans, exclusive electronics outlets, books, music, local and international fashion, clothing, jewellery and accessories. A big duty free outlet offers alcohol and tobacco, perfumes and cosmetics, electronics outlets and accessories.

Striving to be the leading airport in the country with regard to service standards

Feedback from the media and passengers are documented systematically and measures are implemented to address issues raised. Passenger opinion on amenities and services are also being monitored carefully with immediate appropriate action taken.

100 days of airport operations

The landmark occasion when the Bangalore Airport completed 100 days of commercial operations was marked on 1 September. The airport has so far seen 2.42 million passengers, 29,446 aircraft movements and the handling of 44,357 metric tonnes of cargo, besides seeing an encouraging 30 per cent increase in international airlines and air freight carriers into the city. A total of 360 freighter flights have operated out of Bangalore at the time this article was written.

The number of employees in the airport has substantially increased to 5,000 with 52 per cent of people employed by the airport belonging to local origins.

Future vision

The main focus of BIAL is to provide passengers with a world class travelling experience at Bengaluru International Airport. In the coming years, we hope that the Airport emerges as a regional hub for South India. Two months of operations in itself has seen an increase in International flights and introduction of domestic flights to new routes that until then were not connected directly. More of such routes are expected to be launched out of Bengaluru International Airport.

BIAL’s vision is to develop an ‘Airport City’ as a destination in itself, creating a premier business, retail and entertainment hub. This area will be a well balanced mix of office parks, retail and entertainment and hospitality. BIAL’s initiative is in line with the increasing attention being paid to ‘Aerotropolises’ globally. An Aerotropolis is a city in which the layout, infrastructure and economy are centred around a major airport. We envision the airport city to be a flourishing destination in itself; people will not only come here to take flights but also to relax, do business and shop. The Airport city will have entertainment centres and a mall, business centres and office space, just to name a few. It will also provide a strong impact on economy and the creation of jobs.

The airport is expected to commence the second phase by the third quarter of 2009 (estimated to be July). This will include the second terminal and the second runway, which will take approximately three to four years to complete.

Airport hotel

The Oberoi Group will operate a five star hotel of competitive scale and standard under the Trident brand. This will be the first airport hotel in India within a one minute walking distance of the terminal building. With the growing traffic envisaged over the next couple of decades, Bengaluru International Airport will complete its second phase with the second runway and a terminal building to accommodate increased traffic, in terms of aircraft movements and passengers.

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