Saturday, June 09, 2018

A decade after first flight

Bengaluru: Ten summers back, when the city’s HAL Airport had every inch of its space-crunched terminals teeming with grumbling flyers, a commercial aircraft took to the skies for one last time. Forty kilometers away, in Devanahalli, a brand new airport its first landing.  As the Air India Flight 609 touched down at 10.40 pm on May 23, 2008, Bengaluru’s civil aviation history turned a dramatic new chapter. Over the next decade, as all civilian flights ceased to operate at the old airport, lakhs would flock to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), eventually making it India’s third busiest airport.
But it has not always been a smooth ride. For years, passengers suffered in endless traffic chaos as the new Airport Road struggled to take shape. When it eventually did and transformed into a tollway, the vehicular numbers had reached saturation point. Peak-hour congestion at the Hebbal Flyover still continues to be a huge problem.
A new alternative road to KIA holds promise. But a reality check by DH recently had shown how incomplete that option is. Several stretches are in poor shape, nowhere near the promised alternative. To make it worse, the recent molestation by a cab driver has raised serious questions of safety. Besides, the third option, a Metro connectivity is expected to be realized only in the distant future.  However, despite these hiccups, the greenfield airport has made giant strides linking Bengaluru to destinations across the globe. Crossing the 25 million mark, KIA served 26.91 million passengers in the financial year 2017-18, a 17.6% growth over the previous fiscal.
09/06/18 Rasheed Kappan/Deccan Herald