Bengaluru’s Kempegowda airport becomes first in south India to have operational parallel runways

Officials claimed that two operational runways at BLR Airport are expected to provide the necessary impetus to aviation in Karnataka and India.

With the successful touchdown of an IndiGo flight from Lucknow at the refurbished north runway on Thursday, the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in Bengaluru became the first in south India to have operational parallel runways.

It also marked the resumption of flight operations from the north runway, which was closed for renovation and upgrades in June 2020.

A spokesperson for the Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL), which operates KIA, confirmed that approval to begin operations on the north runway was obtained from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“With the CAT IIIB-equipped South Runway becoming operational since December 6, 2019, these enhancements would offer BLR Airport the flexibility to operate both runways in low visibility and adverse weather conditions,” the spokesperson said.

However, despite a proposal earlier to also make the north runway compliant to CAT III-B, it will remain, for now, remain CAT I-compliant. A CAT III-B-compliant runway expands the permissible visual range to as low as 50 metres and 125 metres for safe landings and take-offs.

BIAL officials attributed the decision to not make the north runway CAT III-B to a “drop in traffic due to the pandemic”. “In addition, given that low visibility weather conditions at BLR Airport usually occur during limited periods each year, one CAT IIIB compliant South Runway should suffice for seamless operations, in the near term,” the BIAL spokesperson added.

Officials claimed that two operational runways at BLR Airport are expected to provide the necessary impetus to aviation in Karnataka and India. “The two runways will further bolster BIAL’s vision to transform BLR Airport into the new gateway to India,” the BIAL spokesperson said.

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