Kempegowda International Airport (IATA: BLR, ICAO: VOBL) is an international airport serving Bangalore, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Spread over 4,000 acres (1,600 ha), it is located about 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of the city near the village of Devanahalli. It is owned and operated by Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), a public–private consortium. The airport opened in May 2008 as an alternative to increased congestion at HAL Airport, the original primary commercial airport serving the city. It is named after Kempe Gowda I, the founder of Bangalore.
As of 2016, Kempegowda Airport is the third busiest airport by passenger traffic in the country, behind the airports in Delhi and Mumbai and is the 35th busiest airport in Asia. It handled over 22.2 million passengers in 2016 with little less than 500 aircraft movements a day. The airport also handled about 314,060 tonnes (346,190 short tons) of cargo.
The airport consists of a single runway and passenger terminal, which handles both domestic and international operations. A second runway and terminal are in the early stages of planning and construction. In addition, there is a cargo village and three cargo terminals. The airport serves as a hub for AirAsia India, Air India Regional, Air Pegasus and Jet Airways. It is also a focus city for IndiGo.
The original airport serving Bangalore was HAL Airport, located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the city centre. However, as Bangalore grew into the Silicon Valley of India and passenger traffic to the city rose, the airport was unable to cope. There was no room for expansion and the apron could only park six aircraft. In March 1991, former chairman of the National Airports Authority of India (NAAI) S. Ramanathan convened a panel to select the site for a new airport. The panel decided on Devanahalli, a village about 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of Bangalore. The State Government made a proposal to build the airport with private assistance, which the Union Government approved in 1994.
In December 1995, a consortium consisting of Tata Group, Raytheon and Singapore Changi Airport signed a memorandum of understanding with the State Government regarding participation in the project. In June 1998, however, the consortium announced it was pulling out of the project due to delays in government approval. These included disputes over the location of the airport and the fate of HAL Airport.
In May 1999, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Karnataka State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (KSIIDC) of the State Government signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the nature of the project. It would be a public–private partnership, with AAI and KSIIDC having a 26% share and private companies having the remaining 74%. In January 2001, the State Government created the company Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) as a special purpose entity and began searching for partners. By November, the project had attracted Unique Zürich Airport, Siemens Project Ventures and Larsen & Toubro. Construction was expected to begin in October 2002; however, governmental delays persisted. The concession agreement between the State Government, the Union Government and BIAL was signed in July 2004. In it, BIAL required the closure of HAL Airport.
Construction finally commenced on 2 July 2005. When a study predicted the airport would receive 6.7 million passengers in 2008, the airport was redesigned from its initial capacity of 4.5 million passengers to 11 million, with the terminal size expanded and the number of aircraft stands increased. The cost of the airport rose to ₹1,930 crore (US$290 million). Construction was completed in 32 months, and BIAL set the launch date for 30 March 2008. However, due to delays in establishing air traffic control services at the airport, the launch date was pushed to 11 May and finally 24 May 2008.
As the opening date for the airport approached, public criticism arose, mainly directed toward the closure of HAL Airport. In March 2008, AAI employees conducted a massive strike against the closure of HAL Airport along with Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad, fearing they would lose their jobs. The Bangalore City Connect Foundation, a group of citizens and businessmen, staged a rally in mid-May, claiming the new airport was too small for the latest demand projections. On 23 May, a hearing was held at the Karnataka High Court over poor connectivity between the city and the airport. Ultimately, the State Government decided to go ahead with inaugurating the new airport and closing HAL Airport.
The first flight to the airport, Air India Flight 609 from Mumbai, was allowed to land the previous night as it would be continuing to Singapore shortly after midnight. The aircraft touched down at 10:40 pm on 23 May. The airport became the third greenfield airport under a public–private partnership to open in India, after Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad and Cochin International Airport.
The original name of the airport was Bengaluru International Airport. In February 2009, the State Government sent a proposal to the Union Government to rename the airport after the founder of Bangalore, Kempe Gowda I. When no action was taken, the State Government passed a resolution for the name change in December 2011. The Union Government accepted the proposal in 2012 and formally approved it in July 2013. The airport was officially renamed Kempegowda International Airport on 14 December 2013 amid the inauguration of the expanded terminal building.
Kingfisher Airlines once operated a hub and was one of the largest airlines at Kempegowda Airport. Following its collapse in October 2012, other airlines stepped in to fill the gap in domestic connectivity by adding more flights. In addition, Air Pegasus and AirAsia India launched hub operations at the airport in 2014.
The first phase of expansion was launched in June 2011 and finished in December 2013. The ₹1,500 crore (US$220 million) project doubled the size of the passenger terminal to 150,556 square metres (1,620,570 sq ft), involving the construction of additional facilities for check-in, immigration, security and baggage reclaim. One domestic gate and three international gates were added as well. A large, sweeping roof connects the original building with the expanded areas. The expanded terminal, dubbed "Terminal 1A", has raised the annual passenger capacity of the airport to 20 million.
The airport is owned and operated by Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), a public limited company. The Government of India has granted BIAL the right to operate the airport for 30 years, with the option to continue for another 30 years. The company is a public–private venture. 26% is held by government entities Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation (13%) and Airports Authority of India (13%), and 74% is held by private companies Fairfax Financial (38%), Siemens Project Ventures (26%) and GVK Group (10%).
Kempegowda Airport has one runway:Runway 09/27: 4,000 by 45 metres (13,123 ft × 148 ft), CAT I, ILS equipped.
Four years after it was laid, the runway was entirely resurfaced because of a serious decline in quality. From 11 March to 3 April 2012, it was closed daily between 10:30 am and 5:30 pm. As a result, BIAL accused construction company Larsen & Toubro of building the runway poorly. South of runway 09/27 are a full-length parallel taxiway and the apron, which extends from the Blue Dart/DHL terminal to the passenger terminal.
The passenger terminal accommodates both domestic and international operations. It covers 150,556 square metres (1,620,570 sq ft) and can handle 20 million passengers annually. Check-in and baggage reclaim are situated on the lower floor, while all departure gates are located on the upper floor. There is a total of twelve gates: six domestic gates (gates 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 15) and six international gates (16, 17, 18, 21-22, 23-24, 25-26). Gate 25-26 is equipped to serve the world's largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. Lounges are provided by Above Ground Level and Plaza Premium Lounge, which also operates a day hotel in the terminal. For VIPs there is a separate 930-square-metre (10,000 sq ft) lounge.
The following cargo airlines fly to the airport:
The airport has a fuel farm, spread over 11 acres (4.5 ha) west of the cargo village and passenger terminal. It was built by IndianOil SkyTanking Ltd (IOSL) but is shared by multiple oil companies. In October 2008, Indian Oil commissioned a 36-kilometre (22 mi) fuel pipeline between its storage terminal in Devanagonthi and Kempegowda Airport. Previously, jet fuel had to be transported to the airport by tank trucks, which created traffic and pollution problems.
Kempegowda Airport has three cargo terminals. One is operated by Menzies Aviation Bobba Pvt Ltd and has a capacity for 150,000 tonnes (170,000 short tons) of cargo; it includes a facility for storing pharmaceuticals. Air India SATS (AISATS) operates one terminal, which can handle 200,000 tonnes (220,000 short tons) of cargo. AISATS is also constructing the AISATS Coolport, which will be able to hold 40,000 tonnes (44,000 short tons) of perishable goods. Lastly, DHL and Blue Dart Aviation jointly operate a 20,500-square-metre (221,000 sq ft) terminal.
BIAL inaugurated a separate cargo village in December 2008. The village is spread over 11 acres (4.5 ha) and includes office space, conference rooms, a cafeteria for staff and parking space for nearly 80 trucks. It did not open for occupation until 2010 and initially suffered low occupancy, which some cargo agents attributed to the opening delay, high rent and limited infrastructure.
Kempegowda Airport is connected to the city of Bangalore by National Highway 44 (NH 44). In January 2014, a six-lane flyover was completed over NH 44 between Hebbal and the airport, helping to reduce travel time to and from the city. Two alternative routes are under construction and will be completed by March 2017, one through Thanisandra and the other through Hennur. The airport car park is located at ground level and can hold 2,000 vehicles. The airport is served by several taxi and rental car companies. In addition, ride-sharing companies Ola and Uber have their own pick-up zones outside the terminal.
The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) provides bus transportation to major parts of the city through the Vayu Vajra (Kannada for "Diamond in the Air") service. It is operated using a fleet of Volvo B7RLE buses. In addition, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates a nonstop bus service between Kempegowda Airport and Mysore, as well as a route to Manipal via Mangalore.
A Namma Metro link between Bangalore city and the airport is planned. RITES has presented nine possible routes, and the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd has allowed the public to suggest the best route. A high-speed rail link was previously considered and went as far as obtaining approval from the Union Government. However, the project was eventually scrapped because of high costs and the lack of stops along the line.
The second phase of expansion is underway, which encompasses the construction of a second runway and passenger terminal. When complete, Kempegowda Airport will be able to handle 55 million passengers per year. The estimated ₹4,000 crore (US$590 million) project received clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests in September 2014.
Ground work on the second runway began in February 2016 and will continue for another 12 months, after which the runway will be laid. Located south of the original terminal, it will be parallel to runway 09/27 and measure 4,000 by 60 metres (13,120 ft × 200 ft), wider than the original runway so it can accommodate larger aircraft. The new runway will also be CAT III certified, allowing for landings in fog and other low visibility conditions.
The design of Terminal 2 will be finalised in August 2016, which is being prepared by US architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Construction of the terminal is expected to begin in January 2017, with the first stage allowing for a capacity of 20 million annual passengers and the second stage raising it to 35 million.