BLR Airport scores record cargo traffic

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Bengaluru

The Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (BLR Airport) recorded its highest-ever cargo tonnage, despite a turbulent pandemic environment. During the calendar year 2021 (CY 2021), BLR Airport processed an all-time high tonnage of 406,688 metric tonnes (MT) of cargo, recording a significant growth of 28.6 percent vs. 316,305MT in 2020. This is 7.2 percent more than the pre-COVID level tonnage of 379,348MT in 2019. International cargo recorded a 32.8 percent growth, 265,873MT processed, as compared to 200,209MT in 2020. Domestic cargo grew at 21.3 percent, 140,815 MT processed 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,” said Hari Marar, managing director and CEO, Bangalore International Airport Limited. “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,” Marar added.

Thirteen 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 percent of India’s total perishable shipments during FY 2020-21.

An increased pace of vaccination followed by greater optimism that travellers have exuded in air travel has led to a substantial recovery in domestic passenger traffic in CY 2021. During this period, BLR Airport welcomed 16.07 million passengers, registering a growth of 18.9 percent versus 13.51 million passengers in CY 2020. BLR Airport has been able to recover 48 percent of the pre-COVID level traffic of 33.65 million passengers handled in CY 2019. With the gradual easing of curbs by various state governments, domestic passenger traffic recorded a double-digit growth of 22 percent, an upswing from 12.39 million in CY 2020 to 15.12 million in CY 2021. The second wave of COVID, which led to continued travel restrictions across the globe, followed by supply-side limitations on seat load factors have led to a decline in international traffic. During this period, international passenger traffic shrunk by 15.5 percent, from 1.12 million in CY 2020 to 0.94 million in CY 2021.

Air Traffic Movements (ATM) at BLR Airport were up by 22.5 percent 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 percent and 12.0 percent, 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. The year also saw a significant growth in number of domestic destinations from 54 (pre-COVID) to 74, the highest ever for BLR Airport. This is an outcome of enhanced connectivity to Tier II/III cities. 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 percent to the traffic. On the international front, Dubai, Male, Doha, London, and Frankfurt were the top cities, contributing 70 percent to the traffic. 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 among major Indian airports.

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