BLR Airport records highest-ever cargo throughput for 2021
Despite the turbulent aviation environment in 2021, due to COVID-19, Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, recorded its highest-ever cargo tonnage and a significant growth in passenger figures.
During the Calendar Year 2021 (CY 2021), Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) Airport processed an all-time high tonnage of 406,688 Metric Tonnes (MT) of cargo, recording a significant growth of 28.6 per cent vs. 316,305MT in 2020. This is 7.2 per cent more than the pre-COVID-19 level tonnage of 379,348MT in 2019.
International cargo recorded a 32.8 per cent growth, 265,873MT processed, as compared to 200,209MT in 2020. Domestic cargo grew at 21.3 per cent, 140,815 MT processed versus 116,096MT in 2020. The U.S and Europe continue to be the top trade lanes from BLR Airport.
“The tremendous recovery in air cargo is a positive sign for the aviation sector that has been severely impacted by the pandemic,” said Hari Marar, MD and CEO, Bangalore International Airport Limited. “The key factors that contributed to the cargo growth at BLR Airport are our resilient ecosystem that ensured efficient operations round the clock, focus on supply chain efficiencies, conducive geographic location, aided with robust infrastructure and technology, right mix of commodities, and adequate airline capacities to key markets, globally.”
13 airlines operate freighters to and from BLR Airport to various domestic and international destinations.
Commodities driving the growth are perishables (both agricultural and poultry products), pharma, chemicals and textiles in the exports category, and electronics, heavy machineries, healthcare, and life science products in the imports category. Notably, BLR Airport has emerged as the ‘No.1 Airport in the country’ for perishable exports, accounting for 31.0 per cent of India’s total perishable shipments during FY 2020 to 21.
Recovery in passenger traffic
An increased pace of vaccination followed by greater optimism that travellers have exuded in air travel has led to a substantial recovery in domestic passenger traffic in CY 2021. During this period, BLR Airport welcomed 16.07 million passengers, registering a growth of 18.9 per cent versus 13.51 million passengers in CY 2020. BLR Airport has been able to recover 48.0 per cent of the pre-COVID-19 level traffic of 33.65 million passengers handled in CY 2019.
With the gradual easing of curbs by various state governments, domestic passenger traffic recorded a double-digit growth of 22.0 per cent, an upswing from 12.39 million in CY 2020 to 15.12 million in CY 2021. The second wave of Covid-19, which led to continued travel restrictions across the globe, followed by supply-side limitations on seat load factors have led to a decline in international traffic. During this period, international passenger traffic shrunk by 15.5 per cent, from 1.12 million in CY 2020 to 0.94 million in CY 2021.
“The positive environment in 2021 ignited hopes for a better 2022 in terms of recovery. However, the recent outbreak of the new Omicron variant followed by a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases across the country is expected to suppress growth further,” added Marar.
Marar continued: “We believe that air traffic will eventually recover. However, the pace of recovery will depend on factors such as favourable policies by regulators and easing of travel restrictions across the country and the globe, amongst others.”
Growth in air traffic movements
Air Traffic Movements (ATM) at BLR Airport were up by 22.5 per cent in CY 2021, with the total ATMs during this period being 153,212. Both domestic and international movements saw an upward trend of 23.8 per cent and 12.0 per cent, respectively. The highest single-day ATMs was 590, registered on 19 December 2021, while the daily average ATMs for CY 2021 was 420 per day.
The year (2021) also saw a significant growth in number of domestic destinations from 54 (pre-COVID-19) to 74, the highest ever for BLR Airport. This is an outcome of enhanced connectivity to Tier Two/Three cities. During 2021, 14 new routes were introduced from Bengaluru to Agra, Bareilly, Dibrugarh, Dimapur, Nashik, Silchar, Jamnagar, Jharsuguda, Jorhat, Jaisalmer, Kurnool, Rajkot, Durgapur, and Kanpur. BLR Airport currently serves 20 international destinations under the Government of India’s Air Bubble arrangement.
As a result of BLR Airport’s strong non-metro connectivity, there has been a two-fold increase in the transfer passenger share at BLR Airport, with the Airport establishing itself as the most preferred transit destination in South India. The Airport also has a wide catchment area of over 20 cities, with a convenient flying time of up to 75 minutes.
The top domestic routes in CY 2021 were Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Goa, with these sectors contributing 40.0 per cent to the traffic. On the international front, Dubai, Male, Doha, London, and Frankfurt were the top cities, contributing 70.0 per cent to the traffic.
New and upcoming international routes
CY 2021 was a historic year for international traffic at BLR Airport. In January 2021, Air India commenced the twice weekly, non-stop Bengaluru to San Francisco service. With this, BLR Airport became the first airport in South and Central India to have a direct connectivity to North America.
Japan Airlines commenced flights under the Air Bubble arrangement between Bengaluru to Tokyo Narita from March 2021. The airline plans to increase frequency once the restrictions on international travel are relaxed.
United Airlines and American Airlines are expected to commence operations in 2022 to San Francisco and Seattle, respectively. Despite restrictions on international operations, additional long-haul routes remain one of the focus areas, given the fact that BLR Airport offers one of the highest international yields and best connectivity to domestic destinations amongst major Indian Airports.
BLR Airport has had a phenomenal year in 2021, winning multiple global recognitions for top-notch service excellence.
Having won the Airports Council International’s Voice of the Customer award, Skytrax Award for ‘Best Airport Staff in India and Central Asia’ and induction into the ACI Director General’s Roll of Excellence, BLR Airport concluded the year 2021 on a memorable note by winning the ‘CII Customer Obsession Award from the Confederation of Indian Industries’. This is the first time that an airport in India has won the CII Customer Obsession Award.
Air freight and cargo, Air traffic control/management (ATC/ATM), Airport development, Airside operations, COVID-19, Passenger experience and seamless travel, Passenger volumes, Route development, Sustainability, Terminal operations