Close to nine months after closing for repairs, the upgraded North Runway at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport commenced operations on March 25. The runway was closed for repairs in June 2020, after functioning non-stop for a decade. The refurbishment works carried out at the runway includes the strengthening of the surface and the addition of the two new taxiways.
With the enhancements, the Bengaluru airport will now be able to operate both its runways in low visibility and adverse weather conditions. However, the North Runway will not be upgraded to the CAT IIIB (Category 3 Instrument Landing Systems for low visibility conditions) as was announced earlier, the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) announced.
The new runway of the airport, which is 4,000 metres long and 45 metres wide and is powered with LED lighting , is part of the KIA’s ongoing expansion project, which is estimated to cost Rs 13,000 crore. It had also begun its first commercial flight landing on March 19 2020 while take off operations had already begun in December 2019 itself.
The South Runway of the KIA, which became operational in December 2019, is CAT IIB compliant and the first landing on it was recorded on January 21, 2021 under foggy conditions after visibility dropped to 200 metres. The Kempegowda International Airport is the first airport in south India to have operational parallel runways which can work simultaneously. The runways will be used for both international as well as domestic flights.
The North Runway, which had been operational for over 12 years, was closed for strengthening, resurfacing and installation of centre line flights. After it was closed for refurbishment works, the operations were shifted to the South Runway of the airport. Airport officials had earlier said that as many as nine take-offs and touch-downs in one hour can be carried out using the combined capacities of the parallel runways, once both are operational again.
A spokesperson for Bangalore International Airport Limited had said, “BIAL has worked closely with various stakeholders to complete the refurbishment of the North Runway. We are now awaiting regulatory approvals to commence operations.”