The New Bengaluru (Bangalore) International Airport, built on the city outskirts began operations on the night of 23 of May 2008, after delays in air traffic control services set forward the original planned opening date of 30 March 2008.

The airport, which replaced the old HAL Bangalore International Airport is located in Devanahalli, 40km outside of the city of Bangalore. It is spread over 4,000 acres of land.

The airport began construction in July 2005 and following endless government and airport authority negotiations the project’s first phase (conceived in 1993) got underway.

The terminal and airport went through some last-minute design changes in late 2005 to accommodate an increase in the expected passenger traffic for the projected opening date in 2008.

“The much-delayed Bangalore International Airport finally began construction in July 2005.”

The redesign of the airport project was based on the revision of traffic forecast done in June 2005.

The study estimated traffic flows for the new Bangalore International Airport on airport opening year (2008) at 6.7 million passengers.

The redesign included an increase in the size of the passenger terminal building, number of aircraft stands, taxiways, passenger boarding bridges and the main access road enabling the airport to match the expected traffic in the coming years. The airport handled 12.5 million passengers and 224,000t of cargo in 2011. It recorded 116,851 air traffic movements in 2011.

Bangalore and the need for the airport

The metropolitan area of Bangalore has been one of the most neglected areas in India for international travel connections despite the area’s burgeoning technology prowess.

Bangalore is known as the silicon valley of India and is one of the largest biotechnology hubs in the country. Many business commentators have stated time and again that international airport facilities for Bangalore are essential for its continuing success in both commercial areas and in the tourist industry.

The airport was originally intended to accommodate 3.5 million passengers a year, but was redesigned to handle 12 million passengers. The redesign resulted in an increase in the size of the terminal, number of aircraft stands, new taxiway layouts and supporting infrastructure.

One of the main problems in completing the project was the lack of foreign investment due to the continuing total control of all Indian airports by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). The Indian Parliament eventually passed new legislation to allow airports to stay in private ownership.

Contractors and construction

Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) designed, built, owns and operates the first greenfield private sector-owned and operated airport in India.

Private promoters hold a 74% stake in BIAL while the state holds the remaining 26%. The project was undertaken by a foreign consortium consisting of Siemens, Zurich Airport and Larsen and Toubro. These three companies all hold equity in the project although at the moment overall operations and financial control would still fall to the AAI. In November 2009, Zurich Airport sold a 12% stake in the airport to GVK Power & Infrastructure (GVKPIL) for $98.5m. GVKPIL acquired 17% interest from Larsen and Toubro in December 2009 and another 14% from Siemens in October 2011. The share holding of the project works out as follows:

  • AAI: 13%
  • Karnataka Government: 13%
  • Unique Zurich Airport: 5%
  • Siemens Project Ventures: 26%
  • GVK Power & Infrastructure: 43%

The airport was designed by Kaufmann and Van der Meer Planer of Switzerland. The civil engineering and construction work began in earnest in July 2005. The company responsible for this contract was Larsen and Toubro of India.

BIAL had awarded a contract to Siemens Industrial Solutions and Services Group (I&S) and Siemens India for the job of equipping the airport in Bangalore with technical systems.

“Over 4,500 staff are employed to run the new Bangalore Airport.”

The $75m contract included the supply, engineering and installation of airfield lighting, the IT and communication systems, the baggage handling system as well as the power supply and the building services automation system.

In September 2012, IBM was contracted to supply Smart Airport Enabler – an airport operations management system.

Design and facilities

The passenger terminal is a single, four-level building capable of accommodating international and domestic operations. The basement houses the retail storage, rest areas and services. The arrival and departure areas are separated vertically with a modern, simple, straight-ahead flow system. The terminal is designed for ease of operation and minimum maintenance.

The total floor area is approximately 73,347m². The terminal building is designed to accommodate 2,300 passengers at peak times. The design reflects the best industry practice and caters for 24-hour operations, under all weather conditions. All facilities meet IATA standards.

Common-use terminal equipment (CUTE) enabled check-in counters: 53 and 18 self check-in counters.

A new VIP lounge was inaugurated at level one of the terminal on 21 January 2011.

The airport has 40 gates and eight air bridges, including one double arm and nine remote bus bays. There are a total of 42 aircraft stands, all of which have a fuelling pit. This is the first time that the parking stands in Indian airports have had fuelling pits.

A car park for 2,000 cars was built in front of the terminal building at ground level.

The airport currently has one runway, which can accommodate all types of aircraft including the Airbus A380. There are plans to build a second runway when the annual traffic of the airport reaches 18 million passengers a year which is currently estimated to reach around 2013-14.

The runway, orientated 09/27, is 4,900m (16,076ft) by 45m (150ft) with light paved shoulders making it 60m (200ft).

Terminal expansion

An expansion of the passenger Terminal 1 began in June 2011 at an estimated cost of $221m (INR10bn). The expansion will double the terminal space and increase the airport’s passenger handling capacity from the present 11.6 million to 17 million per year.

The construction partners in the project include Larsen & Toubro. Designed by HOK, the expanded terminal will be 150,556m² in size and have 90 check-in counters, 30 Common Use Self Service (CUSS) kiosks, 24 emigration and 24 immigration counters, 48 security pedestals and 15 baggage reclaim belts. The seating capacity will be increased to 5,300. A new VVIP building to the west of the terminal is also being built.

The terminal will be opened in phases starting from early 2013.

Cargo village

The airport’s cargo village, spread over 11 acres of land, began operations in early January 2009. It is expected to strengthen the commerce and trade in Bangalore, ensuring speedy clearances of import and export consignments from the cargo terminals at the airport.

An investment of about $2.5m (INR120m) has been made towards the facility, which was completed over a period of ten months. The facility is housing 120 freight forwarders and 80 custom house agents.

Partners for airport services

Bangalore International Airport is the first airport in India to operate under a truly open-access model. This allows every qualified fuel supplier to use the facility against a fixed throughput fee and allows airlines to get the best fuel prices available in the market.

BIAL has selected its strategic partner for the new airport’s aviation fuel facility. The consortium is Indian Oil / Indian Oiltanking / Skytanking. Indian Oil is the largest oil company and also the largest aviation fuel company in India. Skytanking is a major independent jet fuel handling company and operates various aviation fuel facilities worldwide, especially in Europe and the United States. It is owned by the Hamburg-based company Marquard and Bahls. Indian Oiltanking is a 50/50 joint venture between Indian Oil and Marquard and Bahls. Each party holds one third in the equity of the consortium.

“The airport opened with the capacity to handle 11-12 million passengers a year and 27 aircraft an hour.”

BIAL has also selected catering partners. These are LSG Sky Chefs and Taj SATS. Each of the selected consortiums is responsible for the design, construction, finance and operation of the flight kitchen at the new Bangalore International Airport. The combined investment is over $14m (INR700m) and the duration of the contract is 15 years. BIAL may award a third license for air catering at a later date.

User development fee (UDF)

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved a user development fee (UDF) of over $5 (INR260) to all domestic outbound passengers at BIAL, with effect from January 16 2009.

The approval comes after more than seven months of commercial operations of the airport. Until mid-January 2009, international passengers were levied a UDF of $22 (INR1,070).

UDF is charged globally to passengers primarily to generate aeronautical revenue for the sustenance, maintenance, operation, management and development of the airports. The UDFs levied on domestic and international passengers are used for providing passenger amenities and services.

The concept of user fees is evolving gradually in India with expressways and highways charging toll and airports charging UDF. Independent regulatory authorities monitor and determine the user fee.

Road and rail infrastructure

As the new airport is 40km (25 miles) outside the city, a new high-speed rail link project has been proposed. A special purpose vehicle Bangalore Airport Rail Link Limited (BARL) is building the project on a build, transfer, operate model. The project is being funded by the Government of India and Government of Karnataka. It is expected to be completed by 2014.

Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation runs eleven bus routes from locations in the city to connect to the new airport. The airport can be reached through Hebbal via Bellary Road, through NH-Yelahanka people can also reach BIAL through Yelahanka via Vidyaranyapura where traffic is less congested.

BMTC has 46 Volvo buses plying to the airport, and the number of buses on each route ensures a frequency of at least one every 30 minutes. The buses are equipped with luggage racks, and can carry up to 30 passengers on each trip. Tickets may be booked online.

Official transportation by BIAL:

  • MeruCabs and Easycabs for taxi services
  • Hertz and Akbar Travels for luxury transport services
  • BMTC Vayu Vajra A/C Volvo buses
  • BMTC Suvarna and Vahini non A/C buses

Several campaigns have been carried out in Bangalore to highlight the lack of connectivity to the new airport as a section of the road is very narrow and unsafe for motorists.

Traffic build-up can at times increase travel time from the city centre to up to three hours, moderate traffic on the road after midnight to 6am allows travel time of an hour.

A series of fatal accidents on this road led the Bangalore City Traffic Police to deploy Interceptors that monitor vehicular speeds using high-resolution video cameras. Speeding vehicles (above 80km/h) are stopped and fined immediately.

The Indian railway authority is also planning to construct a railway terminal at the airport to run a special shuttle from Cantonment railway station to the new airport.

Surrounding area

Bangalore International Airport at Devanahalli is to be surrounded by some of the most eco-friendly settlements and no development will be allowed on the natural river valleys in the area. This is despite the fact that there will be greater population pressure in the area.

“Phase 1 was completed, on schedule, in April 2008.”

According to the Outline Development Plan (ODP) notified by the Bangalore International Airport Area Planning Authority (BIAAPA), the primary land-use sanctioning authority for the area, no development will be allowed to destroy the natural river valley network in Doddaballapur, Devanahalli and Vijayapura in the outskirts of the city.

BIAAPA are also proposing to mandate rainwater harvesting in the airport, as water is one resource that the region and its residents are short of. The airport area, covering three towns and 347 villages, will ensure the entire course of water resources and catchment areas are maintained.

The ODP, projecting land-use zoning in the next 15 years, also proposes separate sewage treatment plants for each of the major towns. The population in the area increased from 2,000 to over 10,000 by the time the airport was finished and the water resources required for this additional population is 90 to 100 million litres of water a day.

Leadership change

Marcel Hungerbüehler took charge as the new CEO of BIAL on 1 February 2009, replacing Albert Brunner who led BIAL for seven years.