Monday, June 02, 2008

The Bangalore International Airport

This Saturday, I had my first experience with the new Bangalore International Airport. Now, this airport is no stranger to controversy. Right from the start of this year, the Bangalore जनता has been up in arms about the closing of the old HAL Airport, more than the opening of the new airport. As such, the public wants better facilities but they also want the convenience of not having to travel to much just to get to the airport. However, what people here dont understand is that the HAL facility just did not have any space. Already it was very cramped, and the growing air traffic would just make the pain of travelling a nightmare. So yes, it was prudent to develop a new Airport, outside of the city limits.

There are many positives of this move:
- It eases the traffic congestion within the city.
- If the airport needs to grow more in the future, there should be enough place around for it to do so.
- This is a step in the right direction. If Bangalore has to grow as a Metropolitan, it needs to expand to the rural areas.

Everyone knew about the project, and its progress. But it is only when the Airport was ready to be launched, that people (thanks to the useless media) started raising the war cry, not to shut down the existing HAL Airport. How can Bangalore manage two airports? It makes no economic, practical or common sense to keep two airports open, even if one is just for "short-haul" flights. People, knowing that the launch is near, should have prepared appropriately. After all, an airport, the magnitude of this one, certainly does not come up in a couple of months. People should have planned better.

This by no way exonerates the government. They should have planned and started improving the connectivity to the new airport, months in advance. But they were so busy playing power-see-saw that they did not find the time to improve the roads, and make connectivity to the new airport easier.

So what do we have now?
- We have a brand new international airport (some of it still being constructed).
- Some facilities of the airport are reportedly mal-functioning (ATC being the most important).
- Connectivity to the new airport is a mess.
- Facilities within the airport are much improved, and makes for a more comfortable and relaxing journey for passengers.

We were to pick up my mom from the airport on Saturday morning. The flight landed 10 minutes early, and she was out of the airport within half an hour of landing (in spite of having checked in bags!). We left home an hour before the flight was to land. Oh boy, we were going to be late! We went to Old Madras road, and then got onto the Outer Ring Road, straight to Hebbal. We managed to travel the 41 kms to the airport in 1 hour and 3 minutes, even though we stuck to the speed limits. What a relief. We reached well in time, and even decided to go check out the arrival lounge. The entry ticket costs INR80 per head.

The interiors are plush, and there is a lot of space. Thats a huge improvement over the old airport. There are coffee lounges and even a book store in the arrival lounge. We cant wait to see the airport completely from inside. We will be flying out in July, and hope to reach the airport early and roam around the interiors.

For a person who arrives at the new airport, all he/she needs to do is step out! Inside the arrival lounge are the kiosks of MERU cabs, Akbar cabs (heard bad reviews about this), Taj Hotels and Oberoi Hotels. On exiting the main building, one comes across the Volvo bus stand. Volvo buses run to major parts of Bangalore, with very few stops. To see the map route of the Volvo buses, click here.

On the way back from the airport, we decided to try the Mekri Circle route. This time, we covered the 40 kms in 1 hour and 10 minutes! So far, the experience with the new international airport has been positive for us. Next we go to pick up dad on Tuesday night. That will be the real test, as it will be during peak traffc hours!

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1 Comments:

Blogger Devesh Agarwal said...

Hi. I have a diametrically opposite view.

Please visit my blog and read my article http://aviation.deveshagarwal.com/2008/04/case-for-keeping-hal-opening-in.html.

Regards

Devesh

9:42 AM  

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