Paving its way through the turbulent pandemic environment, the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (BLR Airport) has managed to record its highest-ever cargo tonnage during the Calendar Year 2021 (CY 2021), of 406,688 Metric Tonnes (MT)- a significant growth of 28.6% vs. 316,305MT in 2020. This is 7.2% more than the pre-COVID level tonnage of 379,348MT in 2019.
International cargo recorded a 32.8% growth, 265,873MT processed, as compared to 200,209MT in 2020. While a 21.3% growth was recorded in the domestic cargo i.e. 140,815 MT processed cargo versus 116,096MT in 2020. The US and Europe continue to be the top trade lanes from BLR Airport.
“The tremendous recovery in air cargo is a positive sign for the aviation sector that has been severely impacted by the pandemic. The key factors that contributed to the cargo growth at BLR Airport are our resilient ecosystem that ensured efficient operations round the clock; focus on supply chain efficiencies; conducive geographic location, aided with robust infrastructure and technology; right mix of commodities, and adequate airline capacities to key markets, globally.”Mr. Hari Marar, MD & CEO, Bangalore International Airport Limited.
13 airlines operate freighters to and from BLR Airport to various domestic and international destinations.
Commodities driving the growth are perishables (both agricultural and poultry products), pharma, chemicals and textiles in the exports category, and electronics, heavy machineries, healthcare and life science products in the imports category. Notably, BLR Airport has emerged as the No.1 Airport in the country for perishable exports, accounting for 31.0% of India’s total perishable shipments during FY 2020-21.
Growth in Air Traffic Movements
The Air Traffic Movements (ATM) at BLR Airport recorded a growth of 22.5% in CY 2021, with the total ATMs during this period being 153,212.
Both domestic and international movements saw an upward trend of 23.8% and 12.0%, respectively. The highest single-day ATMs was 590, registered on December 19, 2021, while the daily average ATMs for CY 2021 was 420 per day.
Enhanced connectivity to tier II/III cities helped the airport record a significant growth in number of domestic destinations from 54 (pre-COVID) to 74, the highest ever for BLR Airport.
During the year, 14 new routes were introduced from Bengaluru to Agra, Bareilly, Dibrugarh, Dimapur, Nashik, Silchar, Jamnagar, Jharsuguda, Jorhat, Jaisalmer, Kurnool, Rajkot, Durgapur and Kanpur. BLR Airport currently serves 20 international destinations under the Government of India’s Air Bubble arrangement.
As a result of BLR Airport’s strong non-metro connectivity, there has been a two-fold increase in the transfer passenger share at BLR Airport, with the Airport establishing itself as the most preferred transit destination in South India. The Airport also has a wide catchment area of over 20 cities, with a convenient flying time of up to 75 minutes.
The top domestic routes in CY 2021 were Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Goa, with these sectors contributing 40.0% to the traffic. On the international front, Dubai, Male, Doha, London, and Frankfurt were the top cities, contributing 70.0% to the traffic.
New & Upcoming International Routes
CY 2021 was a historic year for international traffic at BLR Airport. In January, Air India commenced the twice weekly, non-stop Bengaluru-San Francisco service. With this, BLR Airport became the first airport in South and Central India to have a direct connectivity to North America.
Japan Airlines commenced flights under the Air Bubble arrangement between Bengaluru-Tokyo Narita from March 2021. The airline plans to increase frequency once the restrictions on international travel are relaxed.
United Airlines and American Airlines are expected to commence operations in 2022 to San Francisco and Seattle, respectively. Despite restrictions on international operations, additional long-haul routes remain one of the focus areas, given the fact that BLR Airport offers one of the highest international yields and best connectivity to domestic destinations amongst major Indian Airports.