NEW DELHI: The Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) just keeps courting controversies.
First, the issue of keeping the old HAL airport open resurfaced with the Karnataka chief minister raising the issue recently. And now, the ministry of civil aviation has expressed its displeasure over the new airport’s passenger handling capacity.
In fact, the ministry has already asked the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to determine whether BIAL management’s claim — that the airport is yet to reach its peak passenger capacity — is valid, by calculating its peak passenger handling capacity and the capacity in terms of million passengers per year.
According to industry estimates, BIAL is capable of handling only about 9 million passengers against the current traffic of 10.5 million.
The ministry has suggested that BIAL either construct a temporary terminal to handle extra passenger traffic till the proposed extension is completed or reduce commercial space inside the integrated terminal building to make more space for domestic passengers.
Civil aviation secretary Ashok Chawla was disappointed at the way BIAL has dealt with the issues. “It is true that Bangalore airport was initially planned for lesser traffic and passenger traffic grew at a faster-than-anticipated rate. But unlike the Hyderabad airport (which is also a greenfield airport) management, the managers of BIAL have been unable to adequately respond to the changed market scenario.”
Does this inability to respond to market dynamics stem from the way the airport management is structured? While GMR is the principal investor in the Hyderabad airport (which also faced a similar unprecedented growth in passenger traffic but managed to create adequate capacity mid-way), BIAL is a consortium comprising L&T, Siemens Project Ventures and Zurich Airport and perhaps needs a longer consultation process to approve changes.
Besides, if the BIAL management now agrees to the ministry’s assessment that traffic has already outgrown terminal capacity, demands for keeping the HAL airport open will gain ground further.
Chawla said both the options — creating temporary capacity in the form of an additional terminal or reducing space allocated commercially for eating joints, etc — are being discussed and a final decision would be taken in the next two weeks.
Since reduction in commercial space will have direct repercussions on BIAL’s revenue generation, the idea of creating an additional, albeit temporary, terminal capacity looks to be the most feasible option.
Source : DNA