Flight trials on BIAL to begin by Jan 15: Official

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Bangalore, Nov 28: The flight trials at the new Bangalore International Airport (BIAL), fast coming up at Devanahalli, 35 km from here, wll begin on January 15, BIAL Chief Operation Officer Marcel Hungerbuehler said today.

Speaking to news persons on the sidelines of BAIL signing an agreement with SITA to introduce baggage reconciliation system in the airport, he said most of the work relating to physical structure had been completed and final touches was being given to the terminal building, apron, duty free shops and food courts.

"The runway is already ready and night landing facility is being completed. We have spent Rs 2400 crore so far apart from the Rs 1000 investment from caterers and fuel suppliers. Flight trials will start from January and the first passenger flight will fly out at 00:01 hrs on March 30," he said.

The work on the greenfield international airport, which is expected to handle 10.5 million passengers in the first year of operations, began on June two, 2005. The project was being promoted on a public-private partnership with private consortium, including both foreign and Indian companies, holding 74 per cent stakes and Karnataka government the remaining 24 per cent.

Mr Hangerbuehler hoped the access to the airport, 35 km away from the city near Devanahalli, will be complete by the time airport was thrown open. "The work is being taken up by the government earnestly and we appreciate the CII's recent initiative in urging the Karnataka government to speed up the work on access roads. We are responsible for building roads from the airport to the NH seven," he said.

The COO said two railway lines en route to the airport made it a little difficult in complete the expressway to connect the airport to the city. Two loops was needed to be built to cross over the railway lines for smooth flow of passengers, he said.

He said apart from the short term programmes like widening of the access road, long term plans of building rapid transport system like dedicated rail service was very important.

"It is important we put in place long term plans like rapid transport system as Indian aviation industry has seen rapid growth in the recent times. Aviation in India has grown by 40 per cent during the last three years and it would remain the same if not be more as air travel is becoming more popular due to new players coming in," he said.

The road connectivity to the airport had hit road blocks with the government not being able to carry out work on widening of the highway from the city to the airport in tune with the construction of the airport. Now the work is on to convert NH 7 into a six lane highway from the city till the access road of the airport. However only half of the work was done with just 130 days left for the opening of the airport.

Meanwhile, long term plans like building of rapid transport system like rail link between had been put on the back burner by the government and the work was yet to get started.

UNI

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