K.V. Subramanya and Anil Kumar Sastry at the Hindu report that the domestic passenger traffic at Bengaluru International Airport is down. Short-haul domestic air traffic has dropped drastically, and shifted away from the air to surface transport like buses, trains and cars. BIAL is suffering the double blow of a slowdown in the domestic aviation industry which has forced increases in air fares. The new airport’s remote location and 1 hour commute only adds to its woes.
The full report :
Passenger traffic, particularly in the domestic sector, at the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) has come down since June.
In the initial days after the opening of the airport, BIA handled around 172 flights a day — international as well as domestic. However, the airport now handles only 162 flights while the domestic traffic has come down by 1.5 per cent, according to sources at the BIA.
The passenger traffic did not pick up at the BIA during late August and September as was seen in other airports in the country. The overall annual growth of passenger volume in the country had dropped by three per cent, the sources said.
However, the trend was not unusual, as according to the global trend, September was a lean season for the aviation industry, the sources claimed. Although there had not been any flight suspensions to or from the BIA because of the fall in traffic volume, there had been some ad hoc or unscheduled cancellations of flights in the past two months due to “operational reasons.”
However, during the winter 2008 schedule, the number of flights would go up to 165 a day, the sources added.
Meanwhile, major airlines have been witnessing decreased load factor on domestic routes, particularly short-haul ones.
While the average load factor had been around 70 per cent, on some routes it was as low as 20 per cent, said a senior official of a private airline. While two private airlines used to operate two flights a day each to Mangalore, they were likely to operate one each, after the flights registered just 20 per cent load factor.
Similar has been the case with many private carriers operating on short-haul routes, namely Hyderabad, Chennai, Coimbatore, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.
However, the overall positive growth at BIA, despite the fall in domestic air traffic, was due to the increased international flight operations from Bangalore, the sources explained.
In the last four and a half months, six new international air carriers had started operations in Bangalore: Dragon Air, Tiger Airways, Oman Air, Air Mauritius and most recently Indian carriers Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways. The total increase in international flights was around 230 per cent as compared to last year’s winter schedule, the sources said.
The reduction in number of passengers on short-haul flights has benefited bus operators and the Railways. The load factor on trunk routes had increased substantially since the opening of the BIA.
Anwar Hussain, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, South Western Railway, Bangalore, said while important trains on trunk routes always used to run packed, the load factor on Shatabdi Express (Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai) had considerably increased. It used to be around 75 to 80 per cent earlier, he added. On the other hand, wait-list on trains on important routes had become lengthy, Mr. Hussain added.
The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and RTCs of neighbouring States too introduced more buses connecting Bangalore with important destinations in their States. KSRTC Director (Operations) K.S. Rajkumar said the corporation recently signed inter-State agreements with its counterparts.