Today I came to Bangalore for a meeting. Having heard the horrifying stories of travel from city to the new airport at Devanahali I got booked by train. I should have left by Shadapti Express leaving Chennai at 5:30 PM yesterday, but due to last minute business meetings, I reached Chennai Central station late. I was on the platform only at 5:32 PM, by then all I could see was the last bogie with a giant “X” mark as seen in Bollywood movies. I had to avoid the glaring look of a porter in the platform at me. Missing the train, I travelled today by flight from Chennai to Bangalore and return.
After long delays, several false starts and Protests against closing the old Airport, the New Airport at Devanahali was built by a consortium of Siemens (Germany), Zurich Airport & L&T finally opened itself on May 24, 2008. The old HAL Airport was certainly brimming out of capacity and facilities, Bangalore certainly took a long time in getting a new airport. Is the long wait worth it?. Overall “Yes”, but several things could have been done better.
- For one, a Metro (Train) facility should have been planned and executed which could have provided convenient connectivity from City to Airport. Without a train link, the new airport is putting pressure on the already crowded Makkri Circle Area and Bangalore-Hyderabad National Highway. For me, it took 75 minutes in the morning (9 AM) today to reach Jeevan Bhima Nagar from the new Airport and while returning in the evening (5 PM) took me nearly 90 minutes. I was told by the taxi driver that 90 minutes in the evening is good, it had taken him two days before over 2 Hours (120 Minutes) to get to Airport.
- Second, the waiting area and facilities in the departure terminal could have been better, at this moment they are very basic and ordinary. For example as the photograph below shows there is hardly 30-40 chairs for people to sit in each gate. Certainly each gate will have a flight capacity of over 100 passengers on average, so it was more crowded than the old airport. The lack of facilities at the gate made me wonder whether Siemens wanted to recreate in Bangalore Airport, the same poor facilities that you will find in Frankfurt Airport. The last time while transit to USA I was in Frankfurt Airport and I could get to buy only a Bagel and a Donut to eat – I couldn’t even find a Pizza outlet.
The best mode of transport to and from new airport seems to be the A/C Buses (Vayu Vajra) run by BMTC. It costs about Rs.150 for travelling from Old Airport area to New Airport. To know more about Bengaluru Airport you can go to the official website, which unfortunately seems to be down at this moment.