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I am not against BIA or BIAL

Due to the contrarian views I put forth, readers of my blog may get the impression that I am Anti-BIAL.

Nothing can be further from the truth. I am NOT against Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) at all. BIA is a required addition to Bangalore, and I have always admired the efforts put in by the whole team at the BIAL consortium, and their contractors, and have always congratulated BIAL CEO Mr. Brunner, on a job well done.

My main point of contention is only around the airport capacity in Bangalore, and the high fee structure.

Thanks to years of neglect by the Government Aviation fraternity, Bangalore’s air traffic and economy has been suppressed. No one, me included, have anticipated the rate of growth, let alone plan for it. Since 2004, I have prepared regular reports for the some of the Industry Chambers on the air traffic scenario, and I am happy to say, each one of my projections has been surpassed by actual performance.

I have given praise to BIAL and I am critical of BIAL, when required. There are many realities that are not exposed in the everyday media.

Less than 20% of an airport is the passenger terminal(s). 80% is in other facilities, services, and an airport’s role in the local economy. I think most people are getting enamoured by the terminal and forgetting the rest.

Thanks to my passion for aviation, and having travelled the better part of my life, across global airports, the great to the ugly, and I have studied airports.

I welcome BIAL, but not exclusively.

For too long Bangalore and its residents have endured infrastructure playing catch-up with demand. To ensure, that Bangalore, at least in this one instance, is ahead of the demand curve, I feel HAL is required to operate in additional to BIAL. My optimism for Bangalore is so strong, that I strongly recommend to Government that we need to be planning our third airport, instead of debating about the first and second.

The management of AAI Bangalore, and HAL, know how relentless I have been in pushing them to provide better services and achieve more results for Bangalore. I have sat up for nights on end observing the processes, and along with highly qualified colleagues from industry, proposed processes to ensure good service. Its a pity that the apathy of headquarters politics and bureaucracy of various agencies involved at the airport quashed the push.

Bangalore epitomises the new India, PM Manmohan Singh is rumoured to have said “If Bangalore fails, India fails”. We have to set and expect significantly higher standard, especially from a world class organisation like Zurich Airport. I honestly believe that the BIAL team is very capable, and I look forward to more from them, in the years to come.

If you consider the cost of land, connectivity, and scrapping of various existing infrastructure, the BIA is going to cost the Bangalore and Indian tax payer at least 15,000 Crore, if not more. We should demand and get our money’s worth.

In the new resurgent India, we are finally attempting to jettison the yoke of monopolies, and getting ready to welcome the Competition Commission. In the changed economic environment, BIAL will still earn its investment many times over, even with HAL airport operating alongside.

I welcome comments on my blog. With pride I can say, as long as there is no offensive language, I will post any comment, no matter how positive or negative, of my views, it is.

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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