Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Bengaluru airport soon to be contactless, authority using the lockdown as an opportunity to improvise on technological advancements

by Vijay Grover

Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (KIAB/ BLR Airport) which now connects 61 destinations across India, is using the lockdown and the window with lesser flights as an opportunity to modernize its systems. Going contact less and to facilitate social distancing at every stage seems to be the driving principle to make flying out of Bengaluru a much safer option.  

The airport is further cementing its position as one of the best-connected airports in the Country, adding an overall tally of new routes in the Financial Year to 13. Owing to renewed confidence among passengers on hygiene and safety of air travel amidst the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in passenger traffic to non-metro cities. A daily average of 270 flights, carrying an average of 30,000 passengers per day, was what the airport clocked before the lockdown saw a retraction in number of flights.

With a geographical advantage that provides fast and easy access to catchment areas of South India and other non-metro airports, BLR Airport is driving the growth of the region, with an increase in share of non-metro passengers from 55% in FY19-20 to 64% in FY20-21. These factors enabled BLR Airport faster recovery of Air Traffic Movements and passenger traffic as compared with other major Airports in India. 

With technology now at the forefront in the aviation industry, BLR Airport- owned and operated by Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) is undergoing a digital transformation journey with an aim to enhance customer experience at every touch point. To make BLR Airport the Smart Airport– a digitalized, seamlessly connected, intuitive airport–, BIAL plans to improvise on air travel in India by leveraging technology to create value for passengers.

Tech initiatives that are being implemented at BLR Airport

One-ID Kerb-to-Gate Biometric Boarding Solutions

Biometric technology will identify passengers by their face as they move across the Airport, avoiding stops and the repeated presentation of boarding passes, passports or other physical identity documents. Passengers can simply enroll their ID and biometric data, combined with their flight details, before entering the Terminal. 

Self Bag Drops

The fully automated Self bag Drop enables passengers to complete the baggage transaction within 45 seconds. The BLR Airport is the first in the Country to introduce a large deployment of fully automated baggage drop-off units.  

Smart Security Lane with Automated Tray Retrieval System

This advanced technology will dramatically bring down waiting time for passengers at the security check point which significantly improves passenger experience and efficiency. The smart lanes with ATR will automatically return empty trays to the preparation area for passengers to place their bags and belongings, ending the hassle of looking for trays and also prevent empty trays from piling up. 

Body Scanner

BLR Airport is the first Airport in the country to conduct a Proof of Concept on Body Scanners. This technology can detect material between the skin and clothing. BIAL is working with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and other stakeholders on this.

Innovation Centre of Excellence

BIAL has roped in Accenture to set up a co-innovation centre with an aim to make the Airport future-ready. Accenture will help define a digital roadmap for BIAL and develop tailor-made solutions using a combination of digital technologies.

Que Management System

With the introduction of Que Management System, with implementing partners XOVIS,  passengers not only wait less, but the real-time waiting times will be displayed directly at the processing points. 

Collaborations with tech giants SIEMENS & CISCO for Digital Enhancements

While Siemens will incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) applications, Artificial Intelligence and state-of-the-art Data Analysis to improve passenger experience and operational efficiency, CISCO will enhance airside operational efficiency, improving passenger experience and providing real-time visibility and alerts for aircraft turn-around activities. 

Passenger Forecasting & Planning

BIAL has roped in BEONTRA to use their Scenario Forecasting & Capacity Planning Suite to maximize the efficiency. This will enable long-term forecasting, schedule-based passenger forecasting, capacity planning, route development and business analytics to support the BLR Airport’s current and future needs. 

Apart from enhancing the passenger experience , the airport is on a mission to become India’s first dedicated Express Cargo Terminal, exclusively for export and import of international couriers. The terminal which was inaugurated recently promises to become the biggest. Developed by Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) – operator of BLR Airport – the 200,000 sq.ft. built-to-suit facility will house leading global express courier organisations such as DHL Express and FedEx Express. Express Industry Council of India (EICI) will operate the Common-User Express Terminal for other courier companies. The Common-user Terminal will add impetus to Bengaluru’s already strong e-commerce base. The Terminal will have a dedicated space for Customs offices, and direct access to both Landside and Airside.  

“BLR Airport is well on track towards becoming a cargo hub, offering world-class infrastructure, powered by leading global logistics providers. With express courier gaining greater significance following the exponential growth of e-commerce, the Express Cargo Terminal at BLR Airport is a significant step towards supporting and driving this growth. In addition, it will facilitate trade and faster movement of goods across the world,” said Hari Marar, MD & CEO, BIAL. (TBC)

The new facility will enable BLR Airport to process 150,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) annually, taking the Airport’s overall annual cargo capacity to 720,000 MT, from the existing 570,000 MT. This is a first-of-its-kind warehousing facility at an Indian airport, which has been designed and built-to-suit. This will offer operators with streamlined operational workflows the provision for future expansion. Mechanised truck docks will enable quicker acceptance and delivery of freight. The Terminal, with dedicated space for each operator, is expected to improve throughput and cater to the needs of the burgeoning industry.

The express cargo market for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) sectors has tremendous potential to grow over the next decade, thanks to the larger playing field with multiple service providers, improved transit time, and value-added services. BLR Airport is the preferred cargo airport for shippers across South India. The key factors that led to the transformation of this Airport include operational efficiency, connectivity to key markets and geographic locations, with easier access to manufacturing hubs across South India. The introduction of the Express Cargo Terminal will strengthen the express cargo market in South India.

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