Archive for the ‘BIAL’ Category

Tale of two airports

In Jan 2008, Bangalore’s running group – Runners for Life – had organized a run on the upcoming airport tarmac. It was a memorable experience – the airport didn’t look anything like the way it does today!

So that was actually my only visit to the new airport. We had climbed up the ATC tower with permissions and gotten a great view of the area around. I still remember thinking then that the airport didn’t seem as big as it should be!

This weekend, for the first time, I had a flight to catch from there and was excited that I was finally getting to visit. It is really far and that I guess goes beyond saying. But I think that it’s probably the only road in Bangalore right now that is actually relatively smooth. While the terminal is rather big and swanky compared to the earlier one, you still have a feeling that it’s small. For an international airport, at least. But loads of check in counters, self check-in, helpful staff and all kinds of stores to browse around – makes it closer to an international experience.

Then I flew to Hyderabad into their new(ish) airport and I immediately changed loyalties. It definitely scored over ours in terms of size, user friendliness and sheer glam value!  They look slightly similar too, but Bangalore looks much more box-like in comparison. The one similarity was that both the airports are around 40-50 kms away from the main city.

But for now, this will do! The cab ride cost me Rs 700 as opposed a 150 Rs bus ride. I think the Vayu Vajra ac buses make so much sense, except if it’s late night. They’re comfortable and cost-effective and less than what a cab would cost to take me to the old airport. The one way trip on the way cost us Rs 150 each.

Now I hear they’re planning the second terminal and another runway. That might take a few more years though, I’m sure.

Is HAL Airport Re-opening?

Seems like a Deewali gift to Bangaloreans, and shows someone is awake upthere, remains realistic to the infra-starved India, the Parliamentary Standing Committee report (42nd report functioning private airports and related issues) show the signs of practicality and even seem to think along in the interest of passengers in both the cities…

The report highlights issues and concerns in and around HAL airport at Bangalore and Begumpet in Hyderabad, here are some important observations / highlights of this report…

• Charging of ADF or UDF for financing of the airport is not advisable in the context of policy objective of making the air travel more affordable. The committee has recommended that the UDF imposed on passengers may be withdrawn immediately and no more UDF may be imposed on passengers in any airport.
• Closures of existing airports had caused a revenue loss of Rs 610 crore in 2007-08 for the Airports Authority of India and hundreds of crore spent on developing this airports were lying unutilised because of closure of this infrastructure although these were used for VIP flights, general aviation and helicopter taxi services.
• These airports may be used for short haul flights as is the practice existing in major cities of the world which had more than one airport.
• Committee was informed that the Notice Inviting Tender did not have any mention about the closure of HAL airport at Bangalore but was brought in at the later stage of concessionary agreement. As regarding the violation of the norm that no new airport should come up within 150 km of existing airport and the permitting the Greenfield airports in the two southern cities seemed to violate the policy of the Government.
• Both Greenfield airports were far away from the cities compelled the passengers to use other means of transport such as road and trains for short distance destinations. UDF charges have made the travel from these airports costlier both in terms of time and money.
• Committee had found that the equity contributions of these two Greenfield airports were Rs 240 crore in Bangalore and Rs 330 crore in Hyderabad and the land was given at a concessionary rate. Rest of the finance had come from Government agencies by way of debt from financial institutions. If such resources were to be given to AAI itself, they could have easily developed the infrastructure
• The panel had observed that the Bangalore and Hyderabad airports were making the passengers pay ”exorbitant prices’ for the food items in the airports, while those waiting outside had not access to affordable canteen facilities, toilets and bathrooms. excessive commercialisation had taken a toll of the passenger amenities

Read the full coverage here and here

CM not happy with Bangalore Airport!

So apparently, our CM of a 100 odd days is not happy with the new airport.

In his list are a few reasons why including the fact that it’s not up to international standards and the facilities for customers are not good enough. Of course, the fact that the airport was not built under his government might just be another reason.

But does he have plans to do anything to make it better is what he didn’t say much about.

I have not travelled to the new airport as yet. But I know the travel times have been anything between 1-3 hours for people depending on where they live, time of day and the state of the roads.

The other slightly alarming news I came across the other day is the number of deaths on the road to the new airport. Since it’s possibly the only remaining good stretch of road, vehicles speed up way out of the limits mowing down animals and pedestrians on the path. Maybe they need to install some kind of speed monitors on this stretch to stop this loss of lives.

Though we wrote a lot about the airport when it was being constructed, there hasn’t been much about the “post-opening” experiences.

Anyone with interesting experiences to share on their travels (to) and travails (of) the new airport?

The New Bangalore Airport – The outside experience

The new Bangalore Airport has been written about & talked about a lot largely due to the fact that it is far off from the city. A not so positive point that but then the fact is The Bangalore Airport is up & running. Flights are taking off & landing, getting delayed & canceled. I was there a day after the inauguration and came back…well…read on…

First facts, yes the Bangalore International Airport is far from the city. This fact is so drilled into all of us by now that I suppose we are so mentally tuned to a long travel & starting off well in advance. Once the mental tuning is done the ride becomes that much more bearable. Largely the road from the Hebbal flyover is wide & good so a good car should be able to travel 80-100 km/hr. It took us about an hour to get to the Airport from Commercial Street that Saturday evening.

I really don’t know what a layman should expect from an Airport or from a new Airport for that matter. And especially for someone like me who doesn’t travel around by flights then it is once again of very little significance. But all the hype of the new Airport mostly for the wrong reasons got me curious & I wanted to be there & check it out functioning. Luckily, Brother was off to the US so we went there to see him off.

Only the passengers are allowed entry in to the terminal building while those who travel with the passengers to see them off basically have to hang outside the terminal building. Entry inside is allowed only in the Arrival section. That said the facilities for people who go all the way there to see off someone are not great at all.  The Terminal building is all glass & completely see-through type. So the only activity for most people who go there to see someone off is to follow the progress being made by their traveler in the check in queue. Apart from doing that we looked around for two things. One, some place where we could sit & two, for the toilet. Both were not to be seen. When we enquired with some uniformed facility management chaps their answer was, ‘there is no toilet outside’. That definitely had to be wrong. How could BIAL miss out on something as basic as that? Some more enquiries and we got the directions. We had to walk about 500 meters from the Terminal building for the toilet. And honestly there was nothing International about this toilet, at least in its maintenance. It is very Indian & very local.

I was keen to know how different can an ‘International Airport’ be from an ‘Airport’. I mean really what can be the difference? Well this is what I realized. There is no difference. An Airport is an Airport. And that’s pretty much it. For all those of us who hang out a lot at the malls in Bangalore, we are already used to the escalators, glow signs, uniformed facility management chaps, colorful chairs in the food zones, the organized parking & so on & so forth. The Bangalore International Airport is no different. But yes where the Bangalore International Airport can learn something from the Mall’s facility management chaps is in the maintenance of the toilets. One other area where they can take tips from a mall is in putting up some displays as to where the toilets are. I guess the kind of people who make malls & airports are the same. Because at both places you cant sit.

But yes where the feel of International comes in according to me is in the fact that you don’t see any autos & two wheelers around (I didn’t see any two wheelers at the air port that day but can’t confirm if they are not allowed there). Another area where you get a feel of International is in the size of the entire thing. It’s big & especially so when it’s compared to the previous HAL Airport. Despite these stand out features where it probably lacks in the International tag is Security. It does seem relaxed. Even the area next to the terminal building where some flights are parked can be clearly seen from the distance. The flights are only about a stone’s throw away.  One other area where some improvement would be great is in the food area. Is darshini type food or South Indian food per se not International? Why is it that we get more North Indian & the burger/sandwich type fare there than South Indian? Where is the promotion of local culture there

To sign off on a good note there is one good thing and that too with the most dreaded aspect about the airport, the connectivity. One can rest assured about the connectivity. BMTC has buses every half hour & round the clock. We took a BMTC Volvo well past mid night. This definitely is more cost effective & convenient but only to get into the city. From there you will have to rely on the auto or a taxi again. Other wise of course there are taxi services round the clock as well at the airport.

Introducing Airlift – Airport Transfer Services

Just came across this Airport Transfer Service for BIAL. Since the New airport is far from the city and current Airport Transfers are very expensive for the families or individuals with lot of luggage. This service claims to make airport Transfers less expensive and still provide the required luxury while taking customers to and from the airport. They will pick up the customers from the Airlift pickup points and drop them to the airport and vice versa bring them to the city from the airport.

Airlift
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Retaining HAL !! The last hope…

– “HAaL ya B(IA)haaL!!”

May 22nd 2008, yes that’s the date! Just a day before HAL is pushed to cease domestic travel. Despite formal position of the civil aviation ministry is that metros require two airports likes of Mumbai and Delhi….

In an interlocutory petition filed by social worker B Krishna Bhat, Bangalore City Connectivity Foundation (BCCF) and advocate G R Mohan, SC sought the details regarding the meeting’s held involving the Chief Secretary and other senior officials on April 19 and May 12, it is learnt that in these meeting they found it impossible to retain the HAL airport.

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Ready for take-off? BIAL Airport gears up for May 23

So despite all the controversies about keeping our HAL airport open, according to the latest reports and press releases, the BIAL Airport will finally open its doors at the stroke of midnight (00:01 hours of May 23). All flights landing and departing after midnight will operate from the new airport and flights arriving before midnight (on May 22, 2008) and departing after midnight will operate from the new airport.

BIAL Airport

To refresh your memory (in case you haven’t been reading enough of it already!), the new airport is on the National Highway 7 and is 40kms from the city’s central business district.

Meru and EasyCabs are the taxi services which have tied up with the airport. An indicative price from the airport to MG Road is around Rs 600 including waiting charges of Rs 60 per hour. And if that’s a little scary, the shuttle services that connect the airport to different parts of the city might be a better option. There’s also an option of long term and short term parking at the airport.

So hope you folks are all geared up for the new BIAL airport!

For more information, go here: www.bengaluruairport.com

HAL, In the memoire….

Now that the May 23rd 2008 takes all commercial flights off HAL airport, after the great ‘fixing’ of the protests to keep it open HAL is finally set to rest, an article written by Mr. R K Mishra about this episode in todays times highlights the same…

The new airport is all set to put holes in the pockets of the travelers under UDF charges and roaring taxis that will clinch out few more hundreds, that’s the story now!! The infrastructure starving city is now getting hoaxed by this new ‘arrangement’ by and between few that would churn many closing the HAL airport…uhhhh!
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Visit to Bengaluru International Airport(BIA)

The new Bengaluru International Airport(BIA) – city’s dream project is the most discussed topic in the city at present. In metblogs there have been discussion with respect to updates, connectivity of the airport here, here and here. On sunday april 6th, the communications team of BIAL had conducted a visit to the airport for blogging communities. The event managed and hosted by Shane (PR team of BIAL).

Getting there
We were taken in a A/C bus from Chinnaswamy stadium. The actual plan was to travel by BMTC’s Vayu Vajra, but somehow it didn’t materialized. We took the usual NH-7 and approached the airport by switching from the highway using almost complete trumpet interchange. A 5 km ride from the interchange took us to the terminal building.

First impression
Corridor outside terminal
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The BIAL (New Airport) Update

For those of you who have been following the new airport developments, here is some more news. Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) announced the commencement of the integrated trial phase on Feb 28. This stage signals the final trial phase of the airport and involves integrating various processes to simulate real life airport operation.

The trials held included basic and advanced trials. The advanced trials continue and involve testing of combinations of basic processes and stress tests to check capacity of installations, systems and the staff. These trials test the capacity of different sub-processes and eventually show critical areas and possible obstacles. Based on the feedback received, processes are improved and/or fine-tuned.
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