The Moodie Blog in India: Day 4 and 5 – High hopes in Hyderabad are delivered

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

A year ago, during my last visit to India, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad looked like this…

And this…

And there – being helpfully pointed out by yours truly – were the duty free shops, or at least their work in progress…

It was a construction site. An ambitious, well-advanced construction site, to be fair, but a long, long way from being a completed international airport.

Around eight months later, a remarkable transformation had taken place and a state-of-the-art airport opened for business in late March this year. The GMR-led consortium had somehow defied the odds to open this ambitious greenfield airport, and in the process take Indian airports – and the commercial offer – to new heights.

Now it looks like this…

And this…

And this…

And this…

There is a beautifully prepared access road…

And here – for real this time – are the duty free shops (still very much works in progress, mainly due to stock shortages, particularly for perfumes & cosmetics and confectionery), run by The Nuance Group in partnership with Shoppers’ Stop…

And here are some highlights of the food & beverage offer…

Yesterday I met the GMR team, including Associate Vice President Retail and Commercial Keshav Thapa and (pictured below) Vice President Airport Development Kamesh Rao (below).

You’ll hear from them and other GMR executives in our feature on the new airport that will be published as part of next month’s major Turkey, India, Russia, China markets issue of The Moodie Report Digital Print Edition.

But for now I’ll leave you with the comments of Kamesh Rao, which underline the immense human efforts that went into delivering to the boom city of Hyderabad a world-class airport to replace its chronically dilapidated predecessor at Begumpet.

Mr Rao told me that from October 2007 onwards he worked seven days a week to ensure the job was completed on schedule. From the beginning of March this year until the opening day he actually slept at the office every night.

“We’re very happy with the outcome but we’re not sitting on that outcome,” he told me. “We’re constantly seeking ways to improve.

“But personally I am very, very satisfied… especially once you start to hear positive things from people outside the organisation.

“For myself, in terms of running the Project Management team which had to construct the airport and hand it over to the operations team… if I was given this state two-and-a-half years ago, I would have taken it on a platter.”

I suspect – once they get used to the airport’s distance from the city – so too will most of the citizens of Hyderabad.

I flew out of Rajiv Ghandi International Airport this morning, en route to Delhi. I moved through the various processes from kerbside to airside in impressively quick time. I took an excellent cooked breakfast at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (overall I think the food & beverage is better than the retail in both the domestic and international areas) and found the general experience consumer-friendly, the airport bright, quiet, open and efficient.

First and foremost Hyderabad now has an airport of which it, and India, can be proud. The commercial offer needs some refinement but it also needs time to settle down. Given the challenges that faced GMR, and the level of transformation this facility has brought to the city, a more detailed critical judgement needs to be put on hold.

Look out for our full report coming soon. Meantime, as The Moodie Blog’s journey continues around India, it’s destination Delhi. I have another construction site to report on…

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  • I was also one of the few to witness the built-up of this grand airport. Have a full folder of photographs showing progress since i started visiting the site every month since August 2007.

    Even though i was invloved in only the Duty free retail concepts and design, the airport opening was equally nostalgic.

    The Chanel counter picture, brings back all the challenges and long hours of continous day-night work put in just before the launch.

    Kudos to GMR for their vision, and setting the standard for other airports to follow !