After protests, new Bangalore airport opens

BANGALORE, India, May 24, 2008 (AFP) – India’s gleaming new Bangalore international airport opened Saturday despite protests by residents and businesses who said getting there by road could prove a nightmare. The state-of-the-art 630-million-dollar facility sprang into life after a court threw out pleas by local people to keep the existing airport open for commercial flights.

The arrival of Indian Airlines flight IC609 from Mumbai, carrying 110 passengers and crew, signalled the opening of the airport 36 kilometres (22.5 miles) north of the choked centre of the high-tech southern city.

“The airport will be fully functional, offering world-class facilities for domestic and international passengers,” said a spokesman for the Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) consortium which built the facility.

But the government has not delivered on promises to widen clogged access roads or build a dedicated rail link to and from the city — meaning the commute could take much longer than a short-haul flight.

Many residents and companies in Bangalore voiced fierce opposition to the closing of the old state-run airport, built 50 years ago, which lies just 10 kilometres from the city centre.

Fro