BIAL visit 28-May-2008, service infrastructure in shambles

A picture is worth a thousand words. So I will let the images do the talking of my visit to BIAL on May 28, 2008.

While much is said about the passenger terminal building and the passenger experience, the support facilities are in a sorry shape, and partly explain the problems, plaguing the passenger terminal.

The cargo terminal building of Air India – Singapore Airport Terminal Services (AI-SATS) is an unmitigated disaster. How Customs authorities permitted a warehouse, that is at least 2 months away from even basic inhabitation, to function as a high security bonded warehouse, is a mystery.

What is even more sad, is that fact that SATS is renowned for it good service, and is a subsidiary of the world famous Singapore Airlines, of whom, I am still a very loyal customer. It appears they were pressed in to commencing operations before they were ready. This is an answer the BIAL management, and the Indian Customs Authorities in Bangalore should answer.

AI-SATS Cargo terminal serves the following airlines :

  • Air India
  • Indian Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Malaysian Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Dragon Air (subsidiary of Cathay Pacific)

The incomplete cargo village meant to house cargo and customs agents. Right now they are working by the roadside.

The building meant to house the airlines’ staff. Right now they are having to “make do” in the BIAL administrative building (in white to the left).

Traffic congestion just to enter the passenger terminal building. Given the lack of self control of Bangalore driver, note the lack of any police or security guards to control the traffic, and signs to guide visitors to the correct lane. (The left lanes are meant for the 10 minute pick-up /drop-off).

Police, Army, and other government vehicles “hogging” the parking space in the pick-up / drop-off lanes, adding to the congestion. Of course, the 10 minute rule does not apply to them, only us poor souls who actually pay for using the airport.

A temporary shed, serving as the airport staff canteen, opposite the BIAL office, about 500 meters west of the Passenger Terminal Building. I have said before, if we do not ensure the comfort, of those who ensure our comfort and safety, we are heading for a systemic failure.

The narrow service road leading from the passenger terminal building to all the service and auxiliary buildings (BIAL administrative offices, airline offices, flight kitchens, cargo terminal buildings (CTBs), fuel farm). It was completely choked. It took me 30 minutes to travel the 2 km.

In the absence of any public toilet facilities in the auxiliary buildings, employees and workers at the airport, have to “make do”, with an Indian touch to the International airport.

The narrow service road is completely jammed. It took me about 30 minutes to travel 2 km from the PTB to the CTB. There is no alternate road. I saw works of ground handling agents AI-SATS, getting off their shuttle bus, and running the 1 km to the terminal, in order to report to work on time. This narrow service road cannot handle the all vehicles. It is having unintended consequences on passenger operations since the flight kitchens, airport and airline offices are all on this service road.

Due to overloading of the cargo warehouse parking, and the lack of any policing or security control, vehicles are parked haphazardly, encroaching upon the already narrow service road.

Absolutely mayhem on the road with no policing or security to control the chaos.

Export cargo dumped outside the AI-SATS Cargo Terminal Building (CTB) in the rain.

More cargo just lying already soaked in the rain. Notice all the civil construction in progress, and the cargo and customs agents having to use boxes and cartons as tables for work.

Zinc sheets and flapping plastic making up a temporary wall, of what is supposed to be the AI-SATS Customs bonded “high security” warehouse. Customs is required to grant permission, only after a thorough inspection.

Workers on the roof of the AI-SATS warehouse. Welding was being done directly overhead the cargo. The roof is incomplete and this is the rainy season.

A temporary and naked heavy electrical outlet, with valuable cargo just dumped all around it. A major fire and safety risk.

Valuable export cargo, damaged by poor handling and storage before it is has even left our city.

Over 70% of the floor space of the AI-SATS warehouse is being used to store building construction materials. Welding is being done, right next to cargo. Due to sheer un-preparedness, over 100 tons of cargo is lying outside the warehouse on the tarmac waiting to be brought in. What cargo was brought in, is just haphazardly dumped all around, and is not traceable. Both the Menzies and AI-SATS warehouses are badly understaffed. Cargo agents, and even airlines’ managers were seen trying to help AI-SATS locate cargo to pacify irate importers and agents.

An high view of the choked service road. BIAL has blocked the entrance to the service road on the fuel farm side, without notice or explanation to any of the operators, adding to everyone’s misery. Over 50 tons of export cargo in still on trucks, LCVs and lorries, waiting for the last 24 hours to enter the warehouse to unload cargo.

Another view of the choked service road. Observe the incomplete civil construction of the AI-SATS terminal.

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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No comments

  1. the guys at koshy’s have known this for months, what is it with the management minds of those actually doing the work?

    i am asking a serious question, not ranting … what do you think the actual cause is of this?

    your observations are clear. why is it like this, in your opinion, please.

    thanks for your time