Expanded B’lore airport takes off

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Bangalore, Dec 14, 2013, DHNS: Bengaluru International Airport on Saturday formally became  Kempegowda International Airport (KIA).

The renaming, in honour of the city’s legendary founder, also marked the launch of the airport’s expanded, feature-packed terminal-1A with a capacity to cater to 20 million passengers annually by 2017.

The terminal 1A, inaugurated by Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, has a total floor area of 1,50,000 square metres, more than double the current area of 73,347 sq metres. It comprises 86 check-in counters, 24 departure emigration and 24 arrival immigration counters, 13 new restaurants, 25 retail outlets, a day hotel and more.

It also boasts of 15 boarding bridges, including a Code-F stand to accommodate an Airbus A380, 13 baggage reclaim belts and 48 security consoles.

New VIP Terminal

The expansion also includes a new VIP Terminal of 10,000 sq ft and a new high-tech Airport Operational Control Centre. However, all the new facilities will be open to the public only in January 2014.

The entire Terminal 1A will soon undergo a security sweep by the Central Industrial Security Force before getting operationalised. As Chief Minister Siddaramaiah unveiled the airport’s new identity in an ambience designed to celebrate Karnataka’s culture, the airport promoter, the GVK Group drew attention to its further expansion plans.

The plan includes a second terminal and a second runway, which will address the demands of 45 million passengers till 2035.  “The new terminal will reach its capacity in the next five years. We will submit our further expansion plans to the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) Board and the Government of India. Unless we do that planning fast, the constraints faced by the airport in Mumbai will happen here too,” said GVK Reddy, Co-Chairman, BIAL.

KIA’s expansion was in tune with India’s growing domestic aviation market, the second fastest in Asia. Union Civil Aviation Secretary K N Srivastava urged the State Government to reduce the value-added tax on aircraft turbine fuel from 28 per cent to 5 per cent to capitalise on this growth.

“This would substantially lower the costs, increase the passenger traffic, boost the airport’s competitiveness and make Bangalore a robust aviation hub,” he said. Siddaramaiah later promised to consider the demand seriously.

The connectivity between the KIA and the City has to be fast-tracked. “The State has been talking about exclusive road and rail links to the airport since 2004-05. The pace has been slow. The current NH-7 connectivity alone will not suffice as passenger traffic rises,” said Srivastava.

Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M Veerappa Moily said the State could emulate the multi-modal transport system planned for the Hyderabad airport, involving the Andhra Pradesh Government and the Railways.

“It is a doable plan,” he said, reminding the chief minister of an earlier proposal for a six-lane road linking International Tech Park to the airport.

Kempegowda statue

A statue of Kempegowda is soon to be installed outside the airport terminal. The chief minister got this assurance from the BIAL, following demands for the statue from Moily and others.

Siddaramaiah also chose the occasion to acknowledge hundreds of farmers who had given away land for the airport.

“We should also remember the farmers who gave 4,300 acres of land at Rs 5 lakh an acre. It is because of them that the airport emerged here, raising the land cost to Rs 5 crore an acre,” he told the huge gathering.

When a section of Kannada activists reminded him about employment opportunities at the airport, he turned to the BIAL officials and urged them to prefer locals. “Otherwise, the purpose will be defeated,” he added.

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