Friday, August 20, 2010

Bangalore airport to get a new look with Rs 1,000-cr investment

Bangalore airport to get a new look with Rs 1,000-cr investment


A view of the model of BIAL's new design and the Terminal I expansion plan.
Our Bureau

Bangalore, Aug. 19

Call it the GVK impact. Sometime in early 2012, Bengaluru International Airport, then in its fourth year, will wear a dramatically new look with an undulating canopy and will almost double its capacity on the passenger terminal side and improve on the air side, too.

It may also go for a ‘Code F' plan to accommodate the mighty Airbus A380, according to top officials of the GVK Group, the second-largest investor with 29 per cent stake in the airport company, BIAL.

Expansion

Mr G.V.Sanjay Reddy, BIAL's Managing Director, unveiled a Rs 1,000-crore plan on Thursday for the expansion of Terminal 1. The 18-month-long expansion will roll out in November this year and address the growth in passenger traffic as well as the concerns over the airport's infrastructure and design, he told a news conference, the first since the GVK Group came on board in November 2009.

This would meet the immediate needs, while a larger expansion with a new terminal, the T2, would get under way in a year or two. T2, still to be finalised, would be taken up alongside T1 and be completed by 2014-15, when BIA is expected to reach an annual passenger traffic of 17 million.

BIAL would fund it through bank loans of around Rs 700 crore and the remaining as equity. The finances would be tied up soon and many banks have offered to lend for the project, Mr G.V. Krishna Reddy, BIAL's Vice-Chairman and GVK Group's Chairman and Managing Director, said. GVK is also upgrading the Mumbai airport.

Capacity crunch

According to a new traffic study conducted a few months back, the airport will touch 11.5 million passengers by the end of this financial year (April 2011) and 17 million by 2015. “This is a growth rate of 15-20 per cent. The current terminal is already at that capacity and will not be able to handle any more. The immediate challenge is to provide that capacity by expanding the present terminal,” Mr Sanjay Reddy, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd, said. BIA would be developed as the South Indian gateway.

A Joint Legislature Committee formed by the Karnataka Government has faulted the airport for lack of design and passenger amenities and questioned the expenditure of the project. The new design of architects HOK would include some of these recommendations, Mr Sanjay Reddy said.

After expansion, T1 will be 1.34 lakh sq. m (now 72,000 sq.m), an increase of 86 per cent. It would have a dramatic swooping and curving roof, add colours, landscaping and retail space, more than double the number of passenger seats of 5,000, check-in counters, baggage carousels, a VIP lounge and many more public amenities. The security, customs and immigration spaces would be increased and revamped.

Second runway

The air side improvements and a second runway would follow over the next two years. “We are in the process of revising the master plan and are watching the traffic closely before finalising T2; it will start in the next two years,” Mr Sanjay Reddy said.

On investing in the high-speed airport rail link, which is being tendered out, Mr Sanjay Reddy said the State Government had asked BIAL to “to bear some cost.” BIAL was assessing the returns it would get on any investment.

May become busiest airport

In 15 years, Bangalore airport could be the country's busiest airport with annual passenger traffic of 40 million, ahead of Mumbai and Delhi, a latest traffic study commissioned by the airport company shows.

The two-year-old greenfield Bengaluru International Airport, at around 11 million passengers a year, is now at No. 3 after Mumbai and Delhi, overtaking Chennai some time back.

The projection by aviation and airport consultant Landrum and Brown far surpasses all previous figures for the airport, Mr Sanjay Reddy, said. “No other airport in India has this projection. Mumbai and Delhi are each estimated at around 30 million by that year," he said.

Bangalore's high air traffic has belied all expectations in recent years. A planner's nightmare, it even forced two expansions of the new airport midway through the construction. A 2005 study by Lufthansa Consulting estimated Bangalore's air traffic to touch 22 million by 2025. Mr Reddy said the L&B study projects 75 per cent increase over that, or 40 million. Bangalore has taken a predominant position among southern airports. It has pushed Chennai behind while Hyderabad, the other southern competitor that opened two months ahead of Bangalore, is 50 per cent smaller in traffic.

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