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Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL), the operator of the city's airport said that it handled over 25.04 million passengers in 2017, nearly a decade ahead of initial passenger traffic estimates when the work on the country's first private Greenfield airport began in 2005. BIAL, now owned majority by Indian born Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa backed Fairfax, registered a traffic growth of 12.9 per cent over 2016, as airlines, both Indian and global, planned new routes to cities such as Amsterdam and Bahrain to connect Bengaluru. Air Traffic Movements grew by 4.3 per cent to 44 movements an hour this year. The city is connected to 62 destinations in India and globally by 43 airlines. "We surpassed forecast numbers and continued on a positive growth trajectory. BLR Airport was rated as the fastest growing airport, globally, by FlightGlobal. This is a reflection of the status of Bengaluru as one of the fastest growing cities in India, and its growing economic might”, said Hari Marar, managing director & CEO, BIAL. The operator has already finalised plans for a second runway that will be operational by 2019. By 2021, the second terminal which would open in two phases will be able to handle over 65 million passengers. US architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has designed T2, while Turner International will be the PMC for this expansive project, Bial said. Cargo continues to remain a key focus area for the business.
Besides seeing incremental growth in the overall business, 2017 saw the introduction of a bonded trucking service that connects Coimbatore and Tirupur to the airport via road. The year also saw BLR Airport’s cargo operations scaling new heights, with an overall growth of 8.1 per cent, handling 339,461 metric tonnes. International cargo handling increased by 10.4 per cent over the previous year while domestic cargo handling increased by 4.2 per cent, it said in a statement.The cargo business at BLR Airport accounts for around 11 per cent of the state’s GDP, substantially higher than the global average of 2-3 per cent. BLR Airport also accounts for highest exports of roses and mangos in their peak season from South India. The airport will plan Heli Taxi service beginning February in partnership with Thumby Aviation, with an aim to connect passengers from the airport to electronics city, the software hub on Bengaluru outskirts. Bial, which opened in May 2008, handled in 2009 - the first full year of operations - over 9.3 million passengers, as Bengaluru's economy grew due to an increased focus on technology firms. The rise in budget airlines also helped passenger growth in the city.