Tough ride to new Bangalore airport may hit short-haul flights

March 7th, 2008 - 10:43 pm ICT by admin  


Bangalore, March 7 (IANS) Even as launch of commercial operations from the newly built Bangalore international airport is three weeks away (March 30), domestic airlines are contemplating the feasibility of operating short-haul routes like Kochi, Chennai and Hyderabad from the new airport. A majority of the carriers have adopted a “wait and watch policy” for these feeder routes.

“If people don’t prefer to fly Bangalore-Chennai, or Bangalore-Kochi, it will not be possible for us to operate flights on these routes. We shall wait for the people’s response before finalising our plans,” Anil Srinivasan, regional manager (trade sales), Karnataka and Kerala of Kingfisher Airlines, told IANS Friday.

The new airport in Devanahalli, which conducted successful test flights Friday morning, is located about 35 km from the main city.

During the morning and evening peak hours, it can take around two to three hours to cover this distance owing to traffic congestion. Added to this is the steep cost of reaching the swanky new airport - around Rs.600, which is the basic fare of many low-cost carriers.

Even an acceptable flight delay of one hour would actually mean that a five-hour road trip or seven-hour train journey between Bangalore-Chennai is faster and convenient, Srinivasan explained.

“In view of this, many passengers travelling on short-haul routes may opt for a road or rail journey, given the connectivity problem from Bangalore city to the new airport,” he added.

Even as Kingfisher Airline plans to await public reaction to the new airport, SpiceJet have submitted their summer schedule without any additional southern operations from Bangalore.

“We have taken a very conscious decision of not adding any new southern destination to our operations from Bangalore. Any distance within 500 km range (by road) from Bangalore would require rethinking in terms of feasibility,” said Siddhanta Sharma, chief executive of SpiceJet.

“Our daily services between Bangalore-Kochi shall also be reviewed and a decision taken with regard to feasibility,” he added.

Another deterrent factor seems to be the steep user development fee, which would be levied on domestic passengers. A hefty Rs.675 (around $17) per head for departing passengers, plus taxes could make a big hole in many pockets.

JetLite chief executive Gary Scott said the airline would not operate flights on uneconomic routes. “We would prefer to fly on profitable routes. We shall not operate on loss-making sectors,” Scott asserted.

JetLite presently operates flights from Bangalore to Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and Kochi. Its full service parent carrier Jet Airways also connects these destinations.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Deccan Aviation founder Captain G.R. Gopinath told IANS: “If people will not be able to serve that route, we will have to take a serious decision over the issue.”

“Passenger support is of primary concern for any route we operate, if there is no patronage, then we will have to wait and watch,” he said.

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