Visit to Bengaluru International Airport(BIA)
The new Bengaluru International Airport(BIA) – city’s dream project is the most discussed topic in the city at present. In metblogs there have been discussion with respect to updates, connectivity of the airport here, here and here. On sunday april 6th, the communications team of BIAL had conducted a visit to the airport for blogging communities. The event managed and hosted by Shane (PR team of BIAL).
We were taken in a A/C bus from Chinnaswamy stadium. The actual plan was to travel by BMTC’s Vayu Vajra, but somehow it didn’t materialized. We took the usual NH-7 and approached the airport by switching from the highway using almost complete trumpet interchange. A 5 km ride from the interchange took us to the terminal building.
Lookwise from outside the airport is not really an architecture marvel but it is way better than current HAL airport. As explained by one of the member of architect team, the flooring is completely done using granite slabs and efforts have been put to give a good impression to tourists.
The architect team seems to have got the basics right. According to a design guideline it is better to have a nice ceiling inside rather than external grandeur, so that millions of people experience it. This guideline is addressed by unique curved ceiling with panels in between. These panels brings sufficient amount of natural light inside the terminals. The other major observation was that it was very pleasant inside even though AC was off, courtesy cooling effect of granite slabs.
Future Expansion Plans
Kiran of BIAL communication team briefed us about the future expansion using the proposed complete model of the airport. He explained that a new terminal will be constructed in the south which would be a mirror image of the one in the north, with a parallel runway. This upcoming runway will be operational with the current one simultaneously, unlike many multiple runways airports in India. This briefing session was followed by a Q&A session in which Kiran answered many queries.
The departure terminal consists of 53 check-in counters. Operationally these check-in counters will not be dedicated to a particular airline, instead they will be allocated dynamically. The baggages will undergo 5 level of security check after check-in, so there will be no task of getting a security seal before check-in procedure. One observation is that the counters are very close to each other, I hope there are no issues when all counters are operational simultaneously. Other than regular counters there will be self service kiosks in the terminal where a person with only cabin bag can avail a boarding pass. This facility will be common for all airlines (at HAL airport only Jet airways has this facility).
There are escalators to take passengers from level-0 to the departure lounge located in level-1. This area will have retails such as shoppers stop, crosswords etc. From the lounge the passengers will get on board through the 8 aerobridges or 9 bus bays.
For fire emergency BIAL has procured fire engine vehicles supplied by Rosenbauer. We were given a functional demonstration of this monster vehicle.
The most important part of the arrival section are the baggage belts. In the airport there are seven baggage belts 3 for domestic, 2 for international and 2 in swing area. The modularity of the airport facilitates to have more belts to be allocated to domestic passengers in daytime and international passenger nighttime. To start off BIAL is planning to follow the same schedule as that of HAL.
This is the important issue for this absurdly far airport. According to BIAL’s handout the transportation options will be
- MeruCabs and Easycabs for taxi services (fare Rs. 15 per km)
- Hertz and Akbar Travels for luxury transport services
- BMTC Vayu Vajra A/C Volvo buses (min fare Rs. 70, max fare Rs. 200)
- BMTC Suvarna non A/C buses (min fare Rs. 20, max fare Rs. 90)
Other than these there will be to and fro airport shuttles between passenger terminal and the trumpet interchange every 5 minutes.
After 30 months of construction and 3 months of testing BIAL could not meet the initial deadline because of several external factors which were beyond their control. Now the AAI will be ready with ATC equipment by May 10th the new official opening date is May 11th. But due to election season there is still an uncertainty. Considering the distance factor, some people are proposing to retain commercial operations at HAL airport. But this proposal has taken a backseat partially after Deccan herald has reported that the travel to current HAL airport is not really an easy task.
Thinking one level above all these it is better to transfer operations from HAL to BIA gradually, especially considering the congestion happened after opening of Bangkok’s new Survanabhumi Airport recently due to many technical/non-technical reasons, because of this some operations have to be shifted back to the old airport. I hope this situation is not repeated in Bangalore.