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Back to basics

Bangalore International Airport finally opened in May, following three years of construction and endless negotiations.
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Bangalore International Airport finally opened on 23rd May, following three years of construction and endless government and airport authority negotiations.

The airport opened with a capacity for 11 million passengers a year and the ability to handle 27 aircraft an hour. Traffic flows for 2008 are estimated at 6.7 million passengers. Subsequently, this figure is expected to climb to 8.5 million passengers for the year 2010.

These figures are being met with some concern from critics however, as the airport's opening day brought with it reports of heavy road congestion causing passengers to miss flights.

The airport is situated on the city outskirts, 34km from Bangalore, and although the National Highway Authority of India is expanding roads and constructing tolled expressways, the current infrastructure is, according to reports, unable to cope.

With projected passenger capacity figures in the Middle East dwarfing those of owner-operator Bangalore International Airport Limited's (BIAL), should we be worried about how the Middle Eastern infrastructure will cope once the region's airport expansions are complete?

As is often the case, the capacity to build the required supporting infrastructure comes down to finance. It is estimated by Airports Council International (ACI) that the capital needed for global airport expansion, not including greenfield airports, until 2020 will represent close to US$500 billion and it is unlikely that government's worldwide will make these funds available.

Speaking at Dubai's Airport Show at the start of June, both Andreas Schimm, director of economics and programme development at ACI and Paul Griffiths, chief executive officer of Dubai Airports warned that with world air traffic forecast to double by 2025 the infrastructure will need to be accommodated to avoid traffic system pile-ups. Yet how simple this will be continues to be questioned as the demand for regulation increases.

Sarah Cowell is the editor of Airport Middle East.

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