Saturday, March 24, 2007

Race for southern skies heads for photo finish

Race for southern skies heads for photo finish
Hyderabad Ahead Of Bangalore In Setting Up Infrastructure
The Times of India

Bangalore: Is it yet another victory for Hyderabad over Bangalore?
Both the cities are vying to be the South Asian transit hub. But Hyderabad international airport has the edge over the Bangalore one, pipping it to completion by about a month.
Already Silicon rivals, the cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad have been in a race to finish their airports first and start attracting airlines and passengers. But both airports are sticking to their construction schedule to finish on time, giving Hyderabad a slight advantage.
The date for the first commercial aircraft to take off from the Shamshabad airport outside Hyderabad is March 2008, as against April 2, 2008, for Bangalore. “We have already completed 65% construction,’’ a spokesperson for the GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) said. Comparatively, Bangalore has completed 55%, but pace of work is expected to pick up very soon.
Right from the beginning, Hyderabad has been ahead: It completed its boundary wall by January 2005; Bangalore began its construction activity only in July 2005, and has taken up all works simultaneously, including the boundary wall, which is to be completed this month. Bangalore officials dismiss the whisker-slim difference of a month in the start date as “unimportant.’’ According to them, it is the kind of service delivered and location that is more important to airlines and passengers.
But a comparison of the facilities expected to be provided by the two airports shows there is not much difference between the two. Both airports are planning similar facilities for convenience of passengers and aerotropolises (airport cities) around their airports, offering entertainment and relaxation facilities. Hyderabad has more floor space ratio and handles more passengers per annum: 12 million against Bangalore’s projected 11.5 million. Both cities are positioning themselves as suitable East-West transit points for the world and touting their techno-superiority as the attraction point.
But there is a silver lining: aviation industry members and representatives of both airports feel there is sufficient growth projected in the domestic and international traffic in the region to feed two such transit hubs. “Such competition is good for passengers and airlines as the airports will vie with each other to be efficient,’’ an industry expert said. THE STATUS NOW
Terminal building: Hyderabad (1,00,000 sq metres) — civil works complete; Bangalore (71,000 sq metres) — roof half complete.
Runway: Hyderabad — asphalt layer still to be laid; Bangalore — layer being laid, along with taxiways and apron.
Air traffic control tower: Hyderabad (75 metres) — work complete, to be handed over to the Centre by this month; Bangalore (65 metres) — about 54 metres done, to be handed over by end of the year.


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