Bengaluru, June 7: After the initial barrage of criticism over the inconvenience caused to passengers, Bengaluru International Airport has achieved ‘punctuality’ and efficiency within two weeks itself said BIAL CEO Albert Brunner in his first interview to this newspaper after the airport started operations.
Q.Ground handling has become an issue. What is the real problem?
A. There is a lot of misconception about this entire issue. At the new airport the ground handling function is carried out by two concessionaires. The ground handling functions are split between restricted and unrestricted areas. BIAL insisted on airlines using one of the two ground handlers for their ground handling functions at the restricted areas (airside) and the airlines were free to do their own ground handling at the unrestricted areas. This issue arose as some of the airlines demanded they wanted to do their own ground handling even in the restricted (airside) areas.
The reason BIAL insisted on airlines using one of the two ground handlers for their ground handling functions at the restricted areas (the airside) was to make the airside operations safer.
Q. What about the needs of the staff?
A. There is subsidized staff transport available, an airport staff canteen serving food starting at Rs. 20. Going forward (within 7-10 days), there will be an additional café in the parking area which will provide food starting Rs.10.
Q. On reports of delay on baggage clearance?
A. The reason for this was shortage of staff, equipment and not adequate supervision by ground handling concessionaires. The staff strength has been increased.
Q. Air Traffic Control has been facing technical problems, how well-equipped is the ATC?
A. Given the fact that the airport has a brand new ATC (including the airspace, manpower and equipment) along with the entire supporting infrastructure, the ATC functions have been commendable.
Q. There is news that BIA is already running to full capacity, how do you plan to handle the growing air passengers?
A. We would like to clarify that under the present traffic scenario, BIAL can easily handle the traffic for the next 2-3 years. During this time we want to realize the next expansion.
Q. There are talks of re-negotiations on HAL airport issues, what is your take?
A. As you are aware, HAL was shut the day BIAL was operational, i.e. on Friday, May 24, 2008. BIAL has always maintained that Bengaluru needs a single aviation platform for both domestic and international traffic, to allow seamless transfer between domestic and international flights for passengers, cargo and efficient airline operations.
Q. Connectivity is still a far cry, any progress on that front?
A.The on ground transport offered by BMTC was an instant hit with passengers. Even with the existing infrastructure, actual travel experience of the passengers to the new airport, during regular traffic hours, has revealed a com muting time of between 60-90 minutes from anywhere in Bengaluru. From the center of the city, M.G Road, it can be even below an hour. Within a few years we need to have an additional highway and, for environmental and capacity reasons, a dedicated rail link to the airport.