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Bengaluru International Airport cannot be an island

At the turn of the century, back in 2001, the Managing Committee of the Greater Mysore Chamber of Industry, was host to a highly respected IAS officer. This officer had a background in transportation having served as the Managing Director of K.S.R.T.C. On deputation as a special officer, in the newly formed BIAL consortium, the IAS officer pitched the committee extolling the virtues of “state of the art, world class, airport” Bangalore was to soon have.

Even today, I vividly remember making only one short observation to this officer……”Sir, please remember, no airport can afford to be an island. Please do not overlook connectivity or ancillary facilities“.

This officer, for whom I still have respect, snubbed me in front of the whole committee for my observation. Given the state of affairs, I wonder if that officer would like to re-visit the incident.

All of us are concerned about connectivity for the passengers, yet we are oblivious to the needs of cargo, and the airport workers. In our blind haste, let us not forget the security guard who will ensure our security, the check-in agent who will give us our boarding pass, the baggage handler who will put our bags in to the aircraft, the cargo agent who will get our cargo to the airport, and the whole army of workers who will make the airport tick along.

For every 1 million passengers about 1000 airport staff are needed. An annual 14 million passengers equals about 39,000 daily arriving and departing passengers, who require an army of 14,000 airport staff or 28,000 daily arrivals and departures of airport staff alone. What about their needs ?

There are no decent facilities for these vital human cogs, or their families, in the airport system. Employees of airlines and other businesses connected with the airport, face the Devil ‘s Alternative. Either commute 2~3 hours every day, paying a packet out of their meagre earnings, or then move to facilities nearer to BIAL, like Yelahanka, still about 18kms away. Families are getting uprooted, children’s lives getting disrupted, all because of the complete lack of facilities near the new airport.

Airlines, cargo agents, customs agents, airport shops, etc., are loosing staff, especially female staff, who prefer to resign and find alternate employment instead of enduring the rigours of commuting and working at the new airport.

No airport can afford to be an island……isolated from the city. We need to ensure the comfort of those who will ensure our comfort at the airport.

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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