'Bengaluru airport's proximity a non-issue for airshow'

'Bengaluru airport's proximity a non-issue for airshow'

Airline schedules accommodative of airshow flights, says BIAL

DH infographics.

Will future Aero India shows be affected by the Yelahanka Air Force Station’s proximity to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA)? Outrightly dismissing this as motivated, the airport operators say the KIA’s schedules were always accommodative of the airshow flights and would remain so. 

The KIA’s emergence as India’s third busiest airport and the airshow’s continued relevance in the international calendar had first sparked talks about shifting Aero India out of Bengaluru. One big reason was the relatively short distance between the two aerodromes and the potential for flight path conflicts. 

Could the airport’s second runway, scheduled for launch in 2019, add another dimension? No way, says Hari Marar, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. “The runway will only be opened in October, months after the airshow.” 

But the entire operations of the airport are halted during the air show hours, reminds Marar. “The airshow is a prestigious event. Since the show timings are known months in advance, the airport’s operations are scheduled much ahead. The airlines too schedule their flights accordingly so that no passenger is inconvenienced,” he explains. 

For the last edition of Aero India in 2017, the airport was partially closed for both the rehearsals and the aerial displays. The closure for rehearsals extended from February 8 to 11, 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm, while all take-offs and landings were halted twice during the show days (February 12 to 18). The morning stoppage was from 10 am to 1.30 pm and evening halt from 2 pm to 5 pm.

Those clamouring for shifting the airshow out of the city had cited operational problems faced by the KIA. But the BIAL CEO contends that the Delhi airport, which is far busier with 70 million passengers per annum, has no such issues. “Nobody complains when that airport is closed for Independence Day, Republic Day and other occasions. The KIA will have no problems,” he notes.

The relatively short runway at Yelahanka, proximity of busy highways and the adverse impact of the IAF training schedule are the other technical issues cited to shift the airshow.