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Bangalore airport delay: Carriers’ expansion plans hit air pocket

Bangalore airport delay: Carriers’ expansion plans hit air pocket
Anirban Chowdhury / New Delhi March 31, 2008

The one-month delay in the opening of the new greenfield airport in Bangalore may affect the expansion plans of over a dozen-odd international as well as domestic and cargo carriers who were planning to introduce additional flights from the city.

While the opening of the new airport has got delayed, the existing airport has refused to allow any additional flights due to capacity constraints.

According to executives at Bengaluru International Airport Ltd (BIAL) – the operator of the Bangalore international airport – the delay will force the carriers to operate new flights after one month of the summer season is over, leading to potential loss of revenue.

The main carriers that are expected to be hit are Air Mauritius, Tiger Airways, Oman Air, Dragon Air, Thai Airways, domestic carriers like Kingfisher and Simplifly Deccan, and cargo carriers QuikJet and Jett8.

According to estimates, nearly 100 additional planned weekly flights (domestic and international) may also be hit.

The new airport will commence operations from May 11. “We have said that due to capacity constraints at the existing airport, no new flights can be operated from here. We will, therefore, continue to handle the same number of flights as we did in the winter months,” said an AAI (Airports Authority of India) official.

“From the point of view of the airport and these airlines, there is definitely a loss of revenue. The planned flights would have led to an increase in the number of flights by 30 per cent,” said a BIAL executive.

“More than the domestic carriers, the decision will hit the plans of international airlines, which have to plan their summer schedules well in advance in accordance with their global network,” said an industry expert.

Four international airlines -Air Mauritius, Tiger Airways, Oman Air and Dragon Air – were planning to start their first Bangalore flights from the new airport. According to BIAL figures, airlines like Emirates, Thai Airways and Malaysian Airlines, which already operate from Bangalore, had also sought permission to start new flights.

“Dragon Air was supposed to start its maiden Bangalore-Hong Kong flight from May 1 but we had to defer it to May 24 due to the delay at the old airport,” said Tom Wright, general manager (India), Cathay Pacific, which owns Dragon Air.

Domestic airlines Kingfisher and Simplifly Deccan had also applied for new slots for their domestic and international flights. Domestic airlines had requested for a 25 per cent increase in slots from around 1,084 flights a week to around 1,355 flights. Cargo airlines like Quikjet and Jett8 were also looking at starting flights from Bangalore.

“Our international flights from Bangalore to San Francisco and Hong Kong will not be hampered since we are starting from August, but we will have to re-adjust our new domestic flights out of Bangalore,” said Hitesh Patel, vice-president, Kingfisher Airlines.

Kingfisher’s plan to start a Bangalore-Nagpur-Indore flight this summer will have to be deferred, according to sources.

“We were going to deploy six aircraft in Bangalore but we have only been able to deploy five. But since we are going ahead with our increase in flights with these five aircraft, this will put a pressure on our fleet,” said a Simplifly Deccan executive.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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