Bengaluru, Jan 24 (IANS): The Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (BLR Airport) has recorded its highest-ever cargo tonnage, despite a turbulent pandemic environment.
In Calender Year 2021 (CY 2021), the airport has also welcomed 16.07 million passengers, registering a growth of 18.9 per cent this year when compared to 13.51 million passengers in 2020.
During the period, the BLR Airport has been able to recover 48.0 per cent 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 per cent, an upswing from 12.39 million in CY 2020 to 15.12 million in CY 2021.
During the period, the BLR Airport processed an all-time high tonnage of 406,688 Metric Tonnes (MT) of cargo, recording a significant growth of 28.6 per cent versus 316,305 MT in 2020.
Similarly, the international cargo recorded a 32.8 per cent growth, 265,873 MT processed, as compared to 200,209 MT in 2020. Domestic cargo grew at 21.3 per cent, 140,815 MT processed versus 116,096 MT 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 Hari Marar, MD and CEO, Bangalore International Airport Limited.
"The key factors that contributed to the cargo growth at Bengaluru 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," Marar added.
13 airlines operate freighters to and from Bengaluru Airport to various domestic and international destinations.
Notably, the BLR Airport has emerged as the number 1 airport in the country for perishable exports, accounting for 31.0 per cent of India's total perishable shipments during FY 2020-21.
International passenger traffic shrunk by 15.5 per cent, from 1.12 million in CY 2020 to 0.94 million in CY 2021.
"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 Marar.
"We believe that air traffic will eventually recover. However, the pace of recovery will depend on factors such as favorable policies by regulators and easing of travel restrictions across the country and the globe, amongst others," he added.
The year also saw a significant growth in the number of domestic destinations from 54 (pre-Covid) to 74, the highest ever for Bengaluru Airport. Meanwhile, the BLR Airport currently serves 20 international destinations under the Government of India's Air Bubble arrangement.
The top domestic routes in CY 2021 were Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Goa, with these sectors contributing 40.0 per cent to the traffic. On the international front, Dubai, Male, Doha, London, and Frankfurt were the top cities, contributing 70.0 per cent to the traffic.
In January, Air India commenced the twice weekly, non-stop Bengaluru-San Francisco service. With this, BLR Airport became the first airport in South and Central India to have direct connectivity to North America.
Japan Airlines commenced flights under the Air Bubble arrangement between Bengaluru-Tokyo Narita from March 2021.
Meanwhile, United Airlines and American Airlines are expected to commence operations in 2022 to San Francisco and Seattle, respectively.
BLR Airport concluded the year 2021 on a "memorable note" by winning the CII Customer Obsession Award from the Confederation of Indian Industries. This is the "first time" that an Airport in India has won the CII Customer Obsession Award.