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Business News/ Companies / Air India to develop Bengaluru airport as hub for southern India
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Air India to develop Bengaluru airport as hub for southern India

The airline, along with other Tata Group airlines Air India Express and Vistara, will collaborate with the country’s third-busiest airport to enhance international connectivity over the next five years

Bengaluru airport’s Terminal 2 has the capacity to handle 25 million passengers in a year, adding to Terminal 1’s annual capacity for 35-36 million passengers.Premium
Bengaluru airport’s Terminal 2 has the capacity to handle 25 million passengers in a year, adding to Terminal 1’s annual capacity for 35-36 million passengers.

NEW DELHI:Air India has selected Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport as its second aviation hub in the country, as the Tata Group-backed airline seeks to strengthen its operations beyond the capital.

Air India, along with other Tata Group airlines Air India Express and Vistara, will collaborate with Bengaluru airport, the country’s third-busiest, to enhance international connectivity, operational efficiency, and passenger experience over the next five years, the airline announced on Monday. 

Air India also plans to establish a dedicated domestic lounge at the Bengaluru airport for premium and frequent travellers of all Tata Group airlines. 

The Union government has been pushing for aviation hubs to be developed across the country to enable one-stop international connectivity via India to overseas destinations, which, in turn, would help bring in more investments and commerce.

Currently, New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport is the largest international hub in the country for major Indian airlines such as IndiGo and Air India.

Mint had reported in October that Air India was planning a second hub at an airport in South India to strengthen its international and domestic operations and maximise network utilisation.

Air India and Air India Express hold a cumulative 19.9% share of the international air traffic to and from India, which is the highest. This is followed by IndiGo’s 18.2% share and Vistara’s 3.6%, as per the latest data for October-December from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

The establishment of a hub at the Bengaluru airport and enhanced international connectivity for southern India will work under a hub-and-spoke system. In aviation, this system is built around a central airport to which all traffic from the spoke airports is directed. The hub serves as a transfer point to fly passengers to their final destination. 

Some prominent international hub airports are Dubai for Emirates, Hong Kong for Cathay Pacific, and London Heathrow for British Airways. 

"Airline-airport synergy is key to elevated customer experience and efficient operations, while Bengaluru is highly attractive as an origin and destination market as well as a connecting hub," Campbell Wilson, chief executive officer and managing director, Air India, said in a statement. 

Air India has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Karnataka to also establish maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities at the Bengaluru airport, as it plans more direct long-haul routes from southern India.

Mint reported earlier on the Union government’s plans to transform Indian airports into aviation hubs, beginning with the Delhi airport, to ensure seamless connectivity and minimise connection time between flights.

“This collaboration (between Air India and Bengaluru airport) aligns perfectly with the ministry of civil aviation's vision of developing Indian airports as hubs…," said Hari Marar, managing director and CEO of Bengaluru International Airport Ltd. “Given that over half of the international outbound travellers from Bengaluru and our catchment head to Europe, North America, Australia, and the Far East, our alliance with Air India represents a substantial leap towards this goal."

Kempegowda International Airport is the busiest in southern India and the third-largest in the country. The airport handled 31.9 million passengers in FY23, behind Mumbai airport’s 44 million passengers and Delhi airport’s 65.3 million passengers, as per Airports Authority of India data. 

Bengaluru airport’s recently inaugurated Terminal 2 has the capacity to handle 25 million passengers in a year, adding to Terminal 1’s annual capacity for 35-36 million passengers. The airport will have the potential to handle another 20 million passengers annually in the second phase of Terminal 2, and has land for a third terminal as well.

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Published: 08 Apr 2024, 04:35 PM IST
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