'Building a new airport in India is much more than construction'
— Albert Brunner, Chief Executive Officer, Bangalore
International Airport Ltd
The Indian aviation industry is about a reach an important
milestone as the Bangalore International Airport, India's first new-generation
airport, races to completion on 30 March 2008. Albert Brunner speaks to
Venugopal Pillai on how this was achieved, and the way forward. Excerpts:
The new Bangalore Airport is on the verge of
commissioning, marking a new chapter in India's aviation history. Please
describe the sense of accomplishment at BIAL. How were such high standards of
project management and coordination achieved and that too for such a complex
Thank you for the compliment but we have to clarify that it has not been that
easy. When the project was designed initially, we had anticipated a traffic
volume of approximately five million passengers in the first year of operation.
However, this figure was already reached by the time we started construction.
The big challenge was to significantly increase the project which was already
under construction without jeopardising the initial airport opening date. The
redesign process along with the formal approval took more then nine months and
by the time the increased project was approved, almost one third of the
construction was complete.
Our project is the result of tremendous team work. It is not possible to realise
such a project under the given time constraints without the full dedication of
thousands of people involved (in the offices and at site) and without support
from various authorities.
We believe in India's growth and the huge potential it has; this city too wants
the project to be a success and we are looking forward to March 30 when the
airport will become operational.
What were the most gruelling moments and challenges during project execution,
given that this is India's first PPP airport?
Building a new private greenfield airport in India is much more than a
construction project, it means setting up an unprecedented legal framework - be
it the concession agreement, the land lease agreement or the state support
agreement. All this took time because it had to be done right, without any
mistakes for the benefit of any future agreements. The task also includes coping
with huge time pressure, recruiting and training personnel form a large talent
pool with limited experience. It also requires selection of partners like
caterers, ground handlers and retailers etc., who are willing and are able to
provide service according to the highest international standards. Like mentioned
above, this project is a result of a tremendous team work and that includes the
Government of Karnataka.
The Bangalore Airport is regarded as India's first new-generation airport.
What facilities and services would be radically different from those offered by
existing international airports in the country?
BIAL is committed to establish the new Bangalore International Airport as one of
India's leading airport in terms of quality and efficiency and set a benchmark
for the future commercial development of Indian airports. Some of the unique
An airport which is truly passenger focused:
u Passenger transfer
(domestic & international) under one roof
u Star hotel just
opposite the terminal building
u Short walkways for
u Common use of check-in
u Swing gates (between
international and domestic) to enhance capacity
u State-of-the-art IT
u Passenger experience
which combines business and leisure
BIAL has pioneered the partner selection approach:
u Selection of
professional partners (to combine global experience and local insight)
u Competitive price
structures (to encourage competition)
u Defined minimum quality
standards (to benchmark against international service)
u Open access fuel
What is BIAL's projected revenue generation for 2010? How much of this would
come from aeronautical activities?
It is a bit early to comment; currently the focus is to open the airport on
What is the model for non-aeronautical revenue?
We envision the Airport City to be a flourishing destination in itself; people
will not only come here to take flights but also to relax, do business and shop.
It will provide growth, giving a strong impact on economy and creation of jobs.
The initiative of BIAL to develop Airport City is in line with the increasing
attention being paid to 'Aerotropolises' globally. An Aerotropolis is a city in
which the layout, infrastructure, and economy are centered around a major
airport. Experts in the field are of the opinion that airports will shape
business location and urban development in this century as much as seaports did
in the 18th century, railroads did in the 19th century and highways in the 20th
We understand that the airport will begin operations with a passenger
handling capacity of 11 million per year, and cargo capacity of 1.4 lakh tonnes
per year. What are the broad plans for further capacity expansion?
Yes, the new Bangalore International Airport will begin with handling a
passenger capacity of 11 million per year and cargo of 3 lakh tonnes per year.
There has been an unprecedented growth in the passenger traffic in the aviation
industry at large and this includes Bangalore.
Speaking of the future, the master plan of the new Bangalore International
Airport has been developed to fulfill the need for an operationally efficient
and passenger friendly airport for Bangalore. It ensures that the size and
capacity of the airport facilities can be gradually expanded based on the
passenger and cargo growth. The land at our disposal allows us to develop the
airport up to a capacity of more than 50 million passengers a year. BIAL will
make sure that we can always meet the demand.
Are you satisfied with the progress on the proposed road and rail
connectivity to the upcoming Bangalore Airport? We understand that the road
connectivity project has not kept pace with the airport project.
The airport is at a distance of 30 km to the city and is
currently linked with a six-lane highway that has been completed. In addition, a
peripheral ring road, a high-speed rail link and an express highway, among
others, are currently planned.
BIAL has also taken within its scope the construction of the Trumpet Interchange
which will connect the NH-7 to the airport. This will be ready by March 2008.
BIAL is working closely with the Karnataka government in order to improve the
accessibility to the new airport. The implementation of such projects lies with
the GoK and it is not in the scope of BIAL.
BIAL has seen the coming together of engineering giants, Siemens and Larsen &
Toubro, and Unique Zurich Airport of Switzerland. Do you plan to extend this
partnership to other projects in India, or abroad?
It is premature to comment at this stage. The current focus of BIAL is to
complete the new Bangalore International Airport project master plan.
[January 28 - February 3, 2008]