Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Passenger Growth Accelerates Bangalore Airport Expansion

Aviation Daily Apr 20 , 2010 , p. 12
Neelam Mathews

As business returns, Bangalore International Airport Ltd. (BIAL) is investing $140 million to expand its airport to accommodate 17 million passengers expected by 2015, up from the present 9.2 million.

“A growth of 11-15% a year will take us to 17 million passengers by 2015. The terminal will be expanded by 70% of the existing building with an additional passenger space of 40,000 sq.m,” CEO Marcel Hungerbuehler tells The DAILY. Hyderabad International Airport, also a greenfield airport, handles 6.6 million passengers a year.

The GVK group, which owns a majority stake in Bangalore Airport, is reviewing plans — earlier put on hold — for an aerospace park near the airport that would have facilities for civil and defense services. GVK holds a nearly 37% stake in Mumbai International Airport Ltd. and about 29% in BIAL.

Passenger numbers at BIAL are up 14% in the fiscal year ended March 31, compared with last year. Increases hit their highest point in December last year, Hungerbuehler says.

Airlines are returning. Dragonair, which was operating daily frequencies to Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) from Hong Kong but had cut them to four in January 2009 due to the economic meltdown, has restored daily service. Emirates is up to three daily flights, and Qatar Airways and Air China recently started service to BIAL.

Within the past month, Air India and Singapore Airport Terminal Services reinforced their joint venture to operate ground and cargo-handling services in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

Hungerbuehler says that while there will be no change in the way BIAL functions, “it is important we do not have monopolies. We leave business to the market to handle.”

Discussions are under way with Star Alliance to provide a lounge for Star airlines once the new terminal is ready.

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