Wednesday , 30 September 2020

Debunking Mr. Brunner’s Debunks

In The Times of India, Bangalore, on Tuesday, March 25, 2007, page 22 featured an article by Mr. Albert Brunner, CEO of BIAL. In response to the challenge issued at the end of the article I put forth my own list to debunk certain myths created by BIAL. I have sent this response to The Times of India. Hopefully the will publish it.

Myth : Those who want HAL to continue are enemies of BIAL.

Totally untrue. We want two airports, not one. We welcome BIAL, but not exclusively. With pride, we congratulate the efforts and achievements of the BIAL consortium, including the Governments. We also realise that given Bangalore’s growth, we need to consider a third airport in the next 15 years, let alone debate about keeping two airports open today.

Reality : The airport will saturate in the first year.

As per documents filed in court on behalf of BIAL and Ministry of Civil Aviation and its agencies, BIAL capacity ranges from 9 million to 11.5 million. However, BIAL has projected in November 2007, to IATA and airlines, traffic of 13.2 million in the first year itself, implying a capacity shortfall in the first year.

Reality : Runway capacity will saturate at BIAL

The maximum recommended ATM by IATA is 550 per day or 200,000 per year, given certain operational conditions that BIAL has not yet met. Mumbai airport, with India’s most experienced air traffic controllers, achieves 720 daily ATMs with 2 runways. 550 from the main runway, and 170 on the second.

Mumbai, achieved 20 million passengers with these 720 daily ATMs. Also, Mumbai has a lot more international flights, when compared to Bangalore, which use large aircraft, and therefore achieve more passengers with fewer aircraft movements. Even, if we discount the advantages of an experienced ATC and larger aircraft, and apply the Mumbai figures to Bangalore, at the maximum permitted 200,000 ATMs per year, the maximum theoretical capacity at BIAL will be 15.22 million per runway. BIAL has projected to IATA and airlines committee traffic of 15.6 million in 2nd year of operation.

The single runways will saturate after one year.

As per BIAL the second runway is expected to be commissioned only in 2012 or 2013. What about growth in the interim period ? Even on a war footing, BIAL cannot construct a fully operational runway with required rapid exit and parallel taxiways in 1~2 years.

Reality : BIAL continues to under-estimate Bangalore’s growth

In 2005, just before airport construction started, BIAL appointed Lufthansa Consulting, projected a “most optimistic” estimate of Bangalore air traffic, in 2010 at 10.19 million passengers, and in 2015 at 13.92 million. Bangalore air traffic crossed the 2010 estimate in 2007, and will cross the 2015 estimate in 2008. In the 3 years approximately, that BIAL took to construct the new airport, the air traffic has grown 255% from 4.1 million to 10.5+
million; a growth just not anticipated, let alone planned for. Since 2002, Bangalore air traffic has doubled every 3 years i.e. a CAGR of 33% per year. Yet BIAL continues to estimate growth, even today, at only 12.45% per year over the next 5 years. Why ?

Myth : BIAL will achieve a capacity of 50 MPPA (Million Passengers Per Year)

BIAL claims an ultimate capacity of 50 MPPA (Million Passengers Per Year). The only airport in the world which serves 50 MPPA with two runways is London Heathrow; consistently voted as the “worst major airport in the world”, that too with 5 terminals compared to 2 at BIAL. The Mumbai experience detailed above shows us that BIAL can grow to a maximum of 30.5 million passengers; which will be achieved by 2016 even by BIAL’s ultra-conservative growth rates.

Myth : You need 100 million passengers to justify 2 airports.

New York had 3 airports, when the traffic was only 4.33 million. Today, these three airports have grown TOGETHER, to serve 100 million passengers. India is clubbed in the world economies with Brazil. Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro, each have 2 airports, an in-city smaller airport handling only domestic flights, operating in parallel, with an out of city larger airport which handles both international and domestic flights. In both cities, both airports are commercial successes.

Myth : BIAL is fully prepared for the air cargo needs of Bangalore.

45% of Bangalore’s total trade, over Rs. 50,000 Crores, is sent as air cargo every year. The air cargo complex at BIAL is not fully ready. Only Menzies aviation warehouse is fully ready. AI-SATS is not. In any case, these two operators only service the airlines. BIAL is now doing fire-fight planning, erecting office facilities for the over 350 cargo and customs agents who service the needs of industry, but that is at least one year away. BIAL can look to the existing warehouse operators MSIL and AI JWG as an interim warehousing facility. India spends over 13% of its product costs in logistics costs compared to less than 6% in the developed world, which BIAL represents.

Concern : Aero India show

Aero India show at Yelahanka Aviation and aeronautics is the next boom industry for Bangalore. Governments of India and Karnataka, and the Indian Air Force have invested crores of rupees developing the infrastructure at Yelahanka Air Force Base and promoting Aero India show. BIAL is about 4 nautical miles away. Will Aero India become another casualty as a result of
BIAL ?

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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