Bangalore: Bangalore International Airport Ltd (Bial), the company that is building a new international airport in India’s tech capital, will construct a second runway as early as 2014, more than a decade before its planned date.
“The second runway was initially planned 10 years later. The traffic is growing so fast, we have revised our estimates and hope to touch 18 million passengers (annually) by 2014,” said Albert Brunner, chief executive of Bial, the holding company for the project.
Bial had earlier projected 10.19 million passengers at the airport by 2010 and 13.92 million passengers by 2015.
Globally, a four-km runway, similar to that of Bial, is designed to handle 18 million passengers, with the exception of the Stansted airport in London, which can carry 26 million passengers.
Bial is a consortium of Siemens Projects Ventures, Larsen and Toubro Ltd, India’s largest engineering company, and Unique Zurich Airport, which operates the international airport at Zurich, Switzerland. The Airports Authority of India and Karnataka government hold 13% equity in the project, being built at a cost of Rs1,930 crore.
The airport, at Devanahalli, 35km outside Bangalore, will handle over 10 million passengers in the first year of operations from April 2008. Bial had estimated the passenger traffic to be around eight million, when it revised its earlier projections in 2005.
“We are revising our estimates constantly. Things are changing so fast,” Brunner said, a day after updating Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel on the project’s progress. The airport terminals can handle up to 40 million passengers a year.
The airport, being constructed on a deadline of 33 months, will open a month after the first aircraft lands at another new airport in the south.
Hyderabad’s new airport is also being built on a similar ‘public-private partnership’ model by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd.
The Bangalore airport company will begin construction of a “bigger, second phase” terminal soon after the first flight in April next, designed to handle passengers of A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, said Brunner.
He, however, declined to comment on costs or time frame for the expansion.
The software industry, which contributes to nearly half of Bangalore’s net domestic product, has demanded that the current airport be kept open due to growing passenger traffic and the commute time to the new airport.
Brunner maintained that the existing airport, owned by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the state-run aircraft maker, should be closed once the new airport begins operations, saying, “I don’t see the need for two airports.”
Every day, nearly 23,000 passengers, or 8.39 million annually, fly in and out of the current airport, which is now handling nearly three times its intended capacity, on 165 flights, including those operated by 15 foreign airlines.