Saturday, July 30, 2005

BIAL gets down to business with new CFO

BIAL gets down to business with new CFO
The Hindu Business Line

BANGALORE International Airport Ltd, the company which is executing the new airport at Devanahalli, has kick-started its business activities with the posting of its Chief Commercial Officer.

Mr Stephan Widrig is the second top-ranking executive to be named nearly three years after the company was set up. He took over recently as the CCO/CFO even as the project formally took off early this month. Mr Widrig, like the CEO, Mr Albert Brunner - comes from Unique Zurich Airport, one of the promoters.

"We now have a CCO/CFO who will make recruitments for the marketing of the land side and air side and also interact with the airlines," Mr Brunner told Business Line.

As per the OMSA (operations & maintenance services agreement) it has signed with BIAL, Unique Zurich makes the top and other recruitments for the company. The chief operational officer would also be recruited in a few months, Mr Brunner said.

"From the second and third year onwards, we have to build up the operation of the airport. The COO will also be recruited before the end of this year."

According to the OMSA, Unique is entrusted with the building up of the future organisation, operations of the airport in the initial phase as well as the future operations. Thus, it has the right to nominate the CEO, CCO/CFO and the COO. "The rest we would recruit from the local market."

However, expatriates would initially hold the three top posts. Unique Zurich holds 17 per cent equity in the Siemens-Unique Zurich-L&T consortium. The combine, which won the 1999 bid to build the public-private venture, is the 74 per cent majority partner in the project which also has AAI and the state-owned KSIIDC as minority co-promoters.

BIAL plans to raise its staff size from the current 10-12 to around 40 by the end of this year, touch 80-100 by the second year, mainly for the marketing/financial and operational posts. "When we open the airport we will be some 300 people." All the technical positions have been filled to oversee the ongoing civil works at the site, 30 km from the city.

The CCO would start intensifying contacts with prospective partners on the aviation and non-aviation side. Because of the "long history" and uncertainties over the project, there were no firm business commitments and these contacts would be pursued, "now that everyone has realised that the project will happen."

On the airlines side, BIAL has been in touch with AI, Jet Airways and a host of domestic and foreign airlines. Starting this year-end, Bangalore is to have flights of Air France, British Airways and also the KLM/Northwest Airline partnership.


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