Monday, July 20, 2009

BIAL to resume second phase expansion next year

BIAL to resume second phase expansion next year
Sees signs of air traffic recovering.


Bangalore, July 19 BIAL, operator of the year-old Bengaluru International Airport, says it will start planning for a second terminal and runway only next year, after a due diligence of plans.

It will, however, shortly call bids to do a minor apron expansion as it sees signs of air traffic recovering.

“We will do the planning for the (larger) expansion of the terminal building only next year. Before that, we will hire a consultant to do an absolute and clear review of the original design and planning of the terminal,” the CEO of BIAL, Mr Marcel Hungerbuehler, told Business Line in an interview.

“The first thing to do now is the apron expansion. That is the one thing that we need when the economy picks up again. We are about to make the RFPs (request for proposal) to select the company that will build it,” Mr Hungerbuehler, who took charge as CEO of the company in February, said.

BIAL, which started operations in May 2008, had intended to start Phase II in early 2009, but postponed it as world traffic started nosedived within three months of its opening. Phase II includes a second terminal, a second runway and was estimated to cost Rs 3,500 crore last year – almost Rs 1,000 crore more than Phase I.

Forecast

After a disappointing first year, he said there were already positive signals. Bengaluru Airport saw 7.2 lakh passengers in May and 6.9 lakh passengers in June. Consequently, it expects nine million passengers this year or a 3 per cent growth.

Bangalore’s soaring air traffic had peaked to 10.2 million when the new airport opened in May 2008.

“We think the traffic will be fine in one year. In fact, for the next two years, we have planned 12 per cent growth, because we believe the economy will restart to grow stronger from now,” he said.

The apron expansion will create 20 stands to the existing 42, besides hydrant fuelling systems, another taxiway link and space for freighters at the cargo terminal. It has been estimated to cost Rs 120 crore.

“We have the money for it,” said Mr Hungerbuehler. “Actually we are okay for now as (airlines) have removed some flights. We would probably be okay for another one to two years. But we want to be ready when growth returns.

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