BIAL airport closure in Feb 2019 due to Aero India

Last post of 2018 on Airlineblog

This post is to alert you on possible flight disruptions during Aero India 2019 at Bengaluru International Airport during Feb 20-24 2019
Aero India is a once in two year activity- after repeatedly threatening to move out of Bengaluru, organizers are still sticking to Bengaluru, at least for 2019 edition. Apart from business deals, the biggest crowd puller is the air show where military and other aircrafts soar to the sky and perform various stunts to the delight of audience.  While it is exciting for general visitors, Aero India show means big disruption for regular flyers.

BIAL or Bengaluru airport will be closed for passenger aircrafts for about 5 to 8 hours each day. Exact closure timing for Feb 2019 is not yet available but below is the closure timing during previous Aero India. We can expect a similar schedule this year, during Feb 20-24 2019
What does this mean?
  • Most flights scheduled to arrive or depart during the closure hours will be cancelled by the airline.
  • If an incoming flight is delayed and can’t land before airport closure, it will have to be diverted to another airport and can reach BLR only after airport re-opens- passengers may lose about half a day in the process
  • If weather is bad and even early morning landing/take off can’t happen due to poor visibility, then expect more delays, cancellations and inconvenience.
  • Expect major traffic jams on airport road- you may need several hours to reach Airport by road during day time
  • There could be more restrictions on preceding days during practice sessions (up to one week prior to opening day)
  • There will be more ad-hoc restrictions during VVIP movement like Prime Minister's visit.
So what precautions to take:
  • Avoid flying in and out of Bengaluru between Feb 13 and 24 if possible.
  • If you still have to fly select an evening flight (like departing around 7 to 11 PM) which will have a much higher probability of taking off on time (assuming incoming aircraft is not affected)
  • You can fly out of alternate airports like Mysuru or Chennai if viable for better certainty
  • Factor 2x-3x time to reach airport, unless it is mid night or you stay very close to airport
Airline websites are still accepting bookings as per normal schedule as NOTAM hasn't been issued yet.

If you already have a booking for these days don’t rush to cancel- wait for airlines to provide updated schedule- if your flight is cancelled or time changed, you will be eligible for full refund.

Do you plan to visit Aero India? I visited last in 2015 and was totally disappointed by the infrastructure provided to general visitors- read my detailed thoughts here. This time the fee is 3x more at Rs 1800 without much hope for better services.

Few other posts from my previous visit to Aero India:
Scandinavian Skycats * Some more pictures from 2015 Aero India * Breitling wing walkers

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