Bengaluru: The Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (BLR Airport) recorded its highest-ever cargo tonnage, despite a turbulent pandemic environment, the Bengaluru International Airport said.
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% vs. 316,305MT in 2020. This is 7.2% more than the pre-COVID level tonnage of 379,348MT in 2019.
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International cargo recorded a 32.8% growth, 265,873MT processed, as compared to 200,209MT in 2020. Domestic cargo grew at 21.3%, 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 Mr. Hari Marar, MD & 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,” Mr. Marar added.
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.
Recovery in Passenger Traffic
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% versus 13.51 million passengers in CY 2020. BLR Airport has been able to recover 48.0% 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 22.0%, an upswing from 12.39 million in CY 2020 to 15.12 million in CY 2021. The second wave of Covid-19, 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%, from 1.12 million in CY 2020 to 0.94 million in CY 2021.4
“The positive environment in 2021 ignited hopes for a better 2022 in terms of recovery. However, the recent outbreak of the new Omicron variant followed by a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases across the country is expected to suppress growth further,” said Mr. Marar.
“We believe that air traffic will eventually recover. However, the pace of recovery will depend on factors such as favourable policies by regulators and easing of travel restrictions across the country and the globe, amongst others,” Mr. Marar added.
Growth in Air Traffic Movements
Air Traffic Movements (ATM) at BLR Airport were up by 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.
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.