Kempegowda International Airport (IATA: BLR, ICAO: VOBL) is an international airport serving Bangalore, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Spread over 4,000 acres (1,600 ha), it is located about 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of the city near the village of Devanahalli. It is owned and operated by Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), a public–private consortium. The airport opened in May 2008 as an alternative to increased congestion at HAL Airport, the original primary commercial airport serving the city. It is named after Kempe Gowda I, the founder of Bangalore.
As of 2015, Kempegowda Airport is the third busiest airport by passenger traffic in the country, behind the airports in Delhi and Mumbai. It handled roughly 18 million passengers in 2015 with 400 aircraft movements per day. The airport also handled about 287,000 tonnes (316,000 short tons) of cargo.
The airport consists of a single runway and passenger terminal, which handles both domestic and international operations. A second runway and terminal are in the early stages of planning and construction. In addition, there is a cargo village and three cargo terminals. The airport serves as a hub for AirAsia India, Air India Regional, Air Pegasus and Jet Airways. It is also a focus city for IndiGo.
Construction finally commenced on 2 July 2005. When a study predicted the airport would receive 6.7 million passengers in 2008, the airport was redesigned from its initial capacity of 4.5 million passengers to 11 million, with the terminal size expanded and the number of aircraft stands increased. The cost of the airport rose to ?1,930 crore (US$290 million). Construction was completed in 32 months, and BIAL set the launch date for 30 March 2008. However, due to delays in establishing air traffic control services at the airport, the launch date was pushed to 11 May and finally 24 May 2008.
As the opening date for the airport approached, public criticism arose, mainly directed toward the closure of HAL Airport. In March 2008, AAI employees conducted a massive strike against the closure of HAL Airport along with Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad, fearing they would lose their jobs. The Bangalore City Connect Foundation, a group of citizens and businessmen, staged a rally in mid-May, claiming the new airport was too small for the latest demand projections. On 23 May, a hearing was held at the Karnataka High Court over poor connectivity between the city and the airport. Ultimately, the State Government decided to go ahead with inaugurating the new airport and closing HAL Airport.
The first flight to the airport, Air India Flight 609 from Mumbai, was allowed to land the previous night as it would be continuing to Singapore shortly after midnight. The aircraft touched down at 10:40 pm on 23 May. The airport became the third greenfield airport under a public–private partnership to open in India, after Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad and Cochin International Airport.