The otherwise sleepy town of Kalaburagi has scorched the aviation map this year, with its airport already racking up higher passenger traffic than pre-COVID-19 days.
The number of passengers it handled in December jumped 336 percent to 7,170 compared with a year ago, matched by aircraft movement that soared 323 percent to 136. In February 2020, a month before the pandemic forced a national lockdown, Kalaburagi handled 4,435 passengers with 94 flights, data from Airports Authority of India shows.
That’s among the highest growth rates for any airport in the country. It is among the handful airports that now have bettered their pre-COVID-19 performance. It has performed better than its bigger state peer, the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru.
What explains the rise of the airport that opened in November 2019?
Kalaburagi, also known as Gulbarga, may not have much an industrial presence. But makes up through its education institutes.
“It has a university with medical and engineering colleges,” says Simran Singh Tiwana, CEO of regional airline Star Air that operates from the Kalaburagi airport.