Suggestions for BIAL to get the airport in order

It is approaching 2 weeks since the launch of the new Bengaluru International Airport and the management of BIAL has been making steady progress in solving the multitude of problems present.

Before I offer some suggestions for BIAL management for their consideration, I make an open offer to BIAL management, on behalf of the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce. We want BIAL to succeed. We are here to understand and help. In return we ask for transparency, trust, and sincere engagement from BIAL.

Now the suggestions :

Most important : HAL is now closed. Passengers may provide a “honeymoon period”, but industry cannot afford to. Services have to be delivered, and NOW!!!!!

1. Airport Flow
Add your own security staff to monitor and govern flow of vehicles inside BIAL airport land.
Add overhead signage indicating the correct lanes for (a) parking (b) pick-up and drop-off. The over-zealous parking attendants crowd the entrance lanes trying to divert all vehicles in to the paid parking, which only adds to the chaos.
Prevent service road encroachment by parked Lorries and Vans, up to and including the fuel farm. Once the cargo village gets going it will become a mess of monster proportions.
Expand the service road to 4 lanes. The current 2 lanes will not cope with the multitudes of commercial vehicles already choking the road.
Consider making the service road “one-way” East to West. The main access road can be used as the West to East access for all vehicles.

2. Passenger Terminal and Services
While not expecting BIAL to become a picnic spot, add seating for visitors to the airport, and add public toilets outside the terminal. Visitors may not be paying to enter the terminal, but a certain level of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is good business.
Add a canopy from the terminal till the bus stand. It will aid and promote the usage of the Vayu Vajra services. In these times of high inflation, helping a passenger save money is good business.
Expand the terminal on a war footing. The terminal design is modular and can be rapidly expanded. 71,000 sq. mtrs., is simply unable to cope with the demand. An overflowing departure lounge only diminishes the goodwill BIAL commands, and will lessen your “honeymoon period”.
Do not add additional retail space in the expansion. The current over-dedication to retail can be lowered by re-distributing the shops.
Increase the apron, parking stands and gates. 42 Code C stands which includes 8 contact gates for 450+ flights a day is simply not enough. At the peak of 30 flights per hour, it will get overwhelmed if there is the slightest hiccup.
Increase the number of toilets inside the terminal
Stick to your guns on only 2 ground handling agents only if you can ensure their performance
Provide permanent, good low priced, facilities for your customers’ and partners’ employees. i.e. airline staff, regulatory agencies (Customs, CISF, Immigration), cargo employees, etc.
Speak to CISF Commandant, make them understand the need to use all the entrances to the terminal, and all the DFMDs/X-Ray scanners.

3. Services and Cargo

Cargo is the core reason of an airport, as far as industry is concerned. With the lack of a seaport in Bangalore the criticality only increases adding to the pressure.

India ranks a lowly 39th in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index. In all crucial benchmarks India was below rank 40, only the competence of the people in the clearing process (customs excluded) at rank 31, salvaged the overall ranking. This has to improve, and Bangalore has always led the way.

Both the warehouses (Menzies Bobba and AI-SATS) have not taken advantage of the 2 month delay, and are just not ready. Their services are not up to international standards. From reports of airlines, air cargo agents, customs house agents, the situation will stabilise only after 1~1.5 months. This is simply unacceptable. It needs to be set right in 15 days.

BIAL was brought in to deliver a “world class” airport, and this includes cargo. If any of the cargo terminal operators cannot deliver results, they should be suspended from operation till they improve.

India has established the WRDA, and BIAL management has to realise that it is ultimately responsible for delivering “Global Service Quality” levels. It needs to be the big, bad, bar bouncer, and push its people and partners, in to delivering.

BIAL management needs to recognise that cargo and logistics operations are a vital part of an airport and its interaction with a much larger hinterland, when compared to the passenger catchment area.

BIAL needs to make a parking for all the commercial vehicles at the airport. The service road is choked with lorries, LCVs, mini-trucks, goods auto-rickshaws, etc.
Need to enforce basic GMP and GS1 standards in warehousing.
Create a joint Cargo-Terminal, Airline, Cargo-Agent, Customs-Agent and Industry Chambers task force that will meet and measure, on a monthly basis the :

  • Effectiveness and Efficiency of the clearing process
  • Infrastructure
  • Ease and affordability
  • Competence of the clearance process and people
  • Package Traceability
  • Reliability and repeatability i.e. confidence level

Bring in the managements of both Menzies Aviation Bobba and Air India-Singapore Airport Terminal Services and get categoric commitments on SLAs for the following :

  • Import Bonding – Target 3 hours
  • Import IGM filing – Target 3 hours (if airlines do not comply, ban them)
  • Cargo Traceability – No more than 1 hour. GMP or GS1 standards.
  • Exports – Target 2 hours
  • Goods vehicle parking – No truck should stand on the service road
  • Infrastructure

Strongly consider adding a third cargo terminal, but ensure you get a very high quality vendor.
Add specialist warehousing options, to increase the value proposition. For example Frozen (below 20 Deg C), Chilled (-4 to +4 Deg C), Cold Room (+4 to +15 Deg C) abilities.
Provide public facilities and toilets for the employees.

Long term
BIAL needs to engage Bangalore; its industry, its commerce, its residents. Operate in an open and transparent manner.
Show Bangalore its long term plans, especially expansion. Some specific points can include :

  • Status of second phase
  • Permissions for the second runway
  • SLAs 1 year from airport opening date (AOD)

Bring in the full expertise of Unique Zurich organisation. Marry it to local competence and understanding. Instead of looking for a Civil Engineer to head the 2nd phase expansion, try and find competencies in other fields.
The top person for phase 2, has to focus on efficient process and overall customer delight, not worry about how to make a building.

I hope BIAL finds these suggestions helpful. I invite readers to please add to the list by using the comments option.

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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  1. Very well articulated suggestions for improvement. I am truly impressed by your knowledge and dedication. I only hope that BIAL will heed your advice which they are getting without paying a penny and fix the multitude of problems.

  2. Thanks for your comments. Praise from an accomplished blogger like you is very motivating.

    I have offered Mr. Brunner himself all the support of not just myself, but also the Chamber.

    I very much want BIAL to succeed and deliver to Bangalore a truly world class solution, despite my stand on keeping HAL airport open.

    BIAL wants to convince me on one airport, and I am open to meet with BIAL team any time, and at any place, at their convenience.