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Committee pressure for Bengaluru International Airport face-lift

The Deccan Chronicle reports, the 21-member Joint House Committee (JHC) headed by BJP MLA Hemachandra Sagar, to look into perceived lapses by Bengaluru International Airport Ltd. (BIAL) wants a complete makeover for Bengaluru International Airport. But BIAL has baulked at the idea, particularly as the bill for the face-lift touches Rs 1,000 crore.

“The committee is of the opinion that the airport is functional but looks as if it was built in a hurry,” an official said. The members, who visited the airport recently, said they found it inferior compared to other airports in India and abroad. “The changes they suggested would cost around Rs 1,000 crore. With the BIAL partners already concerned over revenue loss and expansion plans on hold, BIAL is unwilling to spend,” the officer said.

BIAL comes under the Central list and it is the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) which has the final say. Despite the fact that the state is a partner in the BIA with a 13 per cent stake, it has little say in the board. “BIAL partners are sitting pretty with the concession agreement which gives them all the powers to decide what has to be done with the airport. Therefore, BIAL has an upper hand in the tussle with the government. Though, the state requested BIAL to build a second terminal immediately, it was turned down, the officer said.

“The state, which has already given BIAL land free of cost and a loan of Rs 350 crore payable at the end of 10 years of operations at low interest rates, has to release additional funds if the image of the airport has to be lifted.” he added. The state has one option. It can petition MoCA to step in and set right the anomalies. “BIAL’s refusal to give the airport a new look may also lead to the state taking the extreme step of handing over the project to an interested consortium through global tenders.”

But insiders said MoCA which has not yet given BIAL permission for UDF collection may force it to go for a terminal expansion. However, there are limitations. Adding another floor to the existing terminal will be difficult as the design and roofing does not allow it, an officer said.

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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