New Bangalore airport races against time for take-off

February 21st, 2008 - 10:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Bangalore, Feb 21 (IANS) With the clock ticking away, it is a race against time for the consortium of Bengaluru International Airport Ltd to complete the Rs.25-billion greenfield project by March 30 at Devanahalli, about 36 km from the city. Though the imposing airport terminal, the 4-km runaway and other facilities for launching commercial operations are almost ready, road connectivity from the city, especially the access road to the airport, continues to haunt promoters, as civil works are at various stages of completion.

“Insofar as the airport is concerned, about 90-95 percent of the project work has been completed and we are working round-the-clock to finish the remaining works by March 28 to start operations on March 30,” Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) CEO Albert Brunner told reporters Thursday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been invited to inaugurate the much-delayed international airport March 28.

While the consortium - Unique Zurich Airport, Siemens and Larsen and Tourbo (L&T) - executed the project in 33 months as scheduled when civil work began July 2005, the Karnataka government failed to take up the three-km road to connect the airport from National Highway 7 and widening of roads in the city for providing speedy connectivity.

“In order to stick to the project schedule and commence flights from March 30, we enlisted the services of our partner (L&T) to complete the access and service roads to the airport by March 26 though it was beyond our scope. We hope to have the last mile connected by then,” Brunner said.

As per the concession agreement (CA), the present city airport, operated by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) with Airport Authority of India (AAI) will be shut down for commercial operations March 30.

“All domestic and international airlines have been informed in advance to brace up for operating flights from the new airport from March 30. Even short-haul flights on feeder routs will take-off and land at the new airport,” Brunner said.

The swanky airport will have 54 counters on the ground and first floor for checking in, booking baggage and collecting boarding passes within 15-30 minutes before take-off.

“Due to delay in clearing the project for construction, we have combined the first two phases of capacity building in the terminal to handle 12 million passengers per annum as against eight million in the first phase.”

“Being modular, the terminal can be expanded over the next three-four years to handle 15 million passengers per annum from 2012.”

In contrast, HAL airport has been over-stretched to handle 10 million passengers annually against its original capacity of 6-8 million.

With separate entrances and exits for arrival and departures, the new airport is geared up to operate 30 flights per hour during peak hours, which are normally in the morning for domestic services and after midnight for international services.

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