Bengaluru airport could emerge as the primary hub for two major Indian airlines, Indigo and Air India, said Hari Marar, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) during the Business Conclave organized by FICCI.
“For years India did not have an airline that had the gravitas and an airline-airport partnership that would enable the creation of a hub. This was amazingly capitalised upon by our neighbours in Singapore and Dubai by creating fantastic hubs. I think the time has come for Indigo and Air India to create an airline-airport partnership which will create a hub here,” he said.
Earlier, Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia revealed that the government plans to transform Indian airports into aviation hubs, urging domestic airlines to assist in setting up an international civil aviation hub in the country.
Air India, now owned by Tata, is not only expanding its domestic presence but is also considering establishing a hub in southern India, according to its Chief Executive, Campbell Wilson.
With AirAsia, now a part of Air India, having a significant hub in Bengaluru, the airport is well-positioned to become the airline’s second hub after expanding operations in Mumbai.
Indigo’s Head of Global Sales, Vinay Malhotra, previously stated that the airline has observed a growing number of transit passengers choosing to fly through Indian cities between foreign destinations.
A hub, in this context, refers to an airport that serves as a connecting point for passengers traveling to their final destinations.
Experts have argued that Bengaluru has the potential to become a hub not only for Indian airlines but also for international carriers due to the city’s substantial business opportunities. The presence of a new runway and heavy reliance on automation at the airport are attractive features for airlines.
The fact that several international airlines, including Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, and Cathay Pacific, are either commencing operations or increasing their capacity in Bengaluru suggests that the airport is poised to become a significant hub in the years to come.
Hari Marar also mentioned that French luxury fashion brand Chanel has expressed interest in opening a boutique store at BIAL.
BIAL, India’s third-largest airport, connects 76 domestic destinations and 25 international destinations, serving 36 airlines and 13 freight carriers. In FY23, the airport accommodated 31.9 million passengers, just 1.4 million short of pre-pandemic levels. It is projected to handle 39-40 million passengers in FY24.
Prior to the creation of Terminal 2, BIAL had 25,000 employees across the campus. The airport currently employs 38,000 people and aims to increase this number to 50,000 within the next two years, according to Marar.