BLR Airport prepares for the return of international operations
As India welcomes back the gradual increase in international passengers and travel, Bangalore International Airport has reinstated more than 90 per cent routes compared to pre-COVID-19.
With the resumption of international flights to and from India, the Bangalore International Airport (BLR Airport) has been witnessing 25 daily international departures, a significant increase from the earlier 10 per day. The airport has reinstated more than 90 per cent routes compared to pre-COVID-19.
With the gradual increase in international operations, BLR Airport’s route network is expected to further augment with the resumption of routes and additional flights to cater to the demand.
Currently, BLR Airport is connected to 21 international destinations in 17 countries operating through 24 airlines, and the airport will be adding newer routes later this year (2022) to Seattle (American Airlines) and will be strengthening its existing route to San Francisco (Air India) with United Airlines set to launch weekly flights in October 2022, connecting the world’s two biggest tech hubs – Bengaluru and San Francisco.
To address the expected increase in passenger traffic and make the airport experience more seamless, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) – operator of BLR Airport – has deployed automation-enabled technology at various checkpoints such as terminal entry, check-in, security check, immigration, and customs. The existing technology such as self-baggage drops, smart security lane with automated tray retrieval system, along with other contactless technology will further improve the overall airport experience.
“Delivering superior customer experience and consistently improving operational efficiency has become a strategic priority as passenger volumes are expected to grow over the next few months. The timely announcement of the resumption of international flight operations ahead of the busy summer travel season has set a positive tone for the industry. With continuous infrastructure development and technology integrations, BLR Airport is well prepared to handle larger passenger volumes,” commented Hari Marar, MD and CEO of BIAL.
Growth in passenger traffic movements
Air travel recovery is expected to be faster following the resumption of international operations. While passenger traffic recovery in CY 2021 was only 19 per cent (vs pre-COVID-19 CY 2019) due to travel restrictions and cross-border entry, it is expected to grow steadily in the coming months, driven by the strong high-yielding leisure and business travel demand from the city of Bengaluru.
Pre-COVID-19, BLR Airport was connected to 25 international destinations, with an average of 40 international departures each day. Despite the subdued pandemic environment both in 2020, as well as 2021, BLR Airport achieved some significant accomplishments in CY 2021:
- Air India’s bi-weekly, non-stop Bengaluru to San Francisco flight, became the first airport in South and Central India to have a non-stop connectivity to North America
- Japan Airlines weekly flights to Tokyo Narita (expected to progressively increase frequency of flights between BLR to NRT)
- United Airlines and American Airlines announced flight operations to BLR Airport despite the pandemic (flights are expected to start later in 2022).
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Domestic and transfer passengers
The domestic passenger traffic recovery has been promising (with recovery of more than 80 per cent traffic compared to pre-COVID-19 levels), especially during the first three weeks of March this year (2022). The domestic Air Traffic Movement (ATM) recovery has been close to 90 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels and is expected to grow further in the coming weeks.
Despite the restrictions on international travel and subdued traffic growth in the past two years, BLR Airport has established itself as a transfer hub for South India. BLR Airport has the strongest connectivity in South India, connecting to 74 domestic destinations. Share of flights to non-metro routes have shown a considerable increase from 58 per cent (pre-COVID-19) to 63 per cent in CY 2021. Moreover, between Q1 and Q4 of 2021, passenger traffic from non-metro routes has increased by 27 per cent, indicating strong demand between Bengaluru and these points.
BLR Airport was recently conferred with prestigious awards in two categories – Best Airport and ‘Aviation Innovation’ Award for excellence in innovation at Wings India 2022.