BIAL terminal needs immediate expansion

The managements, of both, Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL), and, of their partners, have been going hammer and tongs for the last 18 days, correcting problems. Many of the “teething problems” have been addressed, the few others, hopefully, very soon.

However, the passenger terminal building (PTB) is not a “teething issue”, and needs to be expanded on a war footing.

I am comparing the PTBs of Singapore’s Changi Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), Hyderabad, and Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL), Bangalore.

The graph below shows a comparison in terms of terminal area and annual passenger capacity.

Airport terminals are becoming larger in terms of area per passenger. Case in point, Singapore Changi, consistently rated as the best airport in the world. Despite an acute shortage of land in tiny Singapore, Changi’s new Terminal 3, is considerably bigger than the equally luxurious Terminal 2, despite having a lower rated capacity.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Delving in to the details, some startling truths come forth.

Singapore Changi Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, and Beijing Capital International Terminal 3 (which holds the record as the single largest terminal in the world), have a per daily passenger terminal area, THREE times larger than BIAL.

Even the low featured stripped down Changi Budget Terminal, which serves only the Low Cost Airlines (LCAs), and Hyderbad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, have a passenger-terminal area ratio 33% greater than BIAL.

Is it small wonder, why the BIAL airport terminal appears so crowded from the day it opened ?

Click on the image to enlarge.

A similar shortfall in capacity, when compared to international airports, is evident, in the baggage handling capacity, but that can get addressed during the expansion.

One reads wildly differing figures on BIAL’s terminal capacity, annual passenger capacity claims range from 11 million to 15 million. The BIAL official website claims The current airport infrastructure is designed to handle over 11 million passenger movements annually. Once the final master plan has been achieved, it can accommodate upto 50 million passenger movements annually”.

Bangalore achieved 10.12 million passengers in the financial year Apr 2007 – March 2008. With an 11 million annual capacity, BIAL’s terminal, allows for less than 10% expansion. In the past 3 years, 2005 – 2008, Bangalore has achieved 250% growth, in passenger traffic. Admittedly, there has been a contraction in the growth rate, due to the high fuel prices, and loss of passengers on the short haul flights to rail and road, but a 10% increase in passenger traffic is expected in the next 12 months.

The chart below shows the passenger traffic over the last 2 years at Bangalore.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Using the data from the financial year Apr 2007-March 2008, I extrapolated the average number of passengers per domestic flight. As per BIAL, the maximum number of passengers per hour it can handle is 2,733. We also know, during peak hours, the maximum number of flights per hour is 30.

Modelling the peak hour traffic, at 30 domestic flights per hour, using last year’s average passengers per flight, and BIAL terminal’s peak capacity of 2,733 passengers, a startling figure emerges.

Click on the image to enlarge.

BIAL will be at 90% and above capacity for 11 of the 12 months in the year, and at 95% for the year as a whole. For 4 months, BIAL terminal is close to 100% of capacity.

Running so close to capacity will work only if the situation runs perfectly like a Swiss watch, and we know that is not the case in India. It also does not allow for any any future expansion, a situation, that is equally unpalatable to BIAL as it is to many of us.

I am sure, the BIAL consortium wants an airport that promotes Bangalore’s progress, not impede it.

The expansion of the Passenger Terminal Building has to be taken up on a war footing.

All the images are my copyright.

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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  1. Glad to see someone standing up for Bengaluru. Some relevant discussions here:

    including the comments – insights in the last few ones too!