The Moodie BLOG in India: Part 7 – Hitting new heights in Bangalore

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Indian aviation is constantly hitting new heights and smashing growth records. A ground-to-air revolution is being played out here and everyone wants a part of the action.

The Times of India today described it as ‘zoom power’, and revealed that over 100 new airports are to be built in the country in so-called ‘tier-2’ cities (which in population terms would be ‘tier 1’ in almost any other land) in the next few years, incremental to India’s 127 existing airports.

Additionally, some 360 airstrips constructed during World War Two will be offered for private participation. The northeast region alone will see an amazing 26 new airports or airstrips.

The Times reported: “Every State and Union territory is at the drawing board, competitively identifying key cities where an airport or developing an airstrip would make a dramatic difference to the lives of citizens.”

That phenomenon is certain to be given added momentum by the successful completion of new greenfield airports such as Bangalore International and Hyderabad International, as well as the ambitious redevelopments of Delhi and Mumbai’s airports.

Yesterday The Moodie Report discovered literally the heights that India’s airport sector is reaching. We were on the site of the splendid new greenfield Bangalore International Airport (pictured top), which will open for business next April (when the CEO is Swiss – Albert Brunner, well-known for the great job he did in the transformation of Zurich Airport – you just know the job will be done on time).

What a day this was. What a place it will be.

Together with the hugely energetic and committed BIAL team (S Shriram, Manager Commercial Centre pictured left with Rajiv Kapool, Head Centre Management) and representatives from duty free concessionaire The Nuance Group (partners with Shoppers’ Stop here) and food & beverage operator HMSHost – led by Nuance’s Executive Vice President Business Development and Strategic Marketing Carlo Bernasconi and HMSHost CEO Elie Maalouf and Managing Director HMSHost Asia Suredj Autar – the Moodie Report got a unique view of a facility that will be transformed from a construction site into a sophisticated international airport in the next nine months.

First we had the fantastic experience of being whizzed along the airport runway, not an opportunity given to most folk – or to be wasted by others. “Floor it!” said Elie Maalouf to the driver. Elie informed me learnedly that a 747 takes off at around 200k per hour and, as the driver dutifully put his foot down, for a moment I thought we might just become the airport’s first non-commercial flight.

A few moments later we really did hit the heights though as we scaled the 60 metre high aviation control tower. When I say scaled I mean that we were lifted up in a wire cage usually reserved for workmen.

Now The Moodie Report’s philosophy has always been that the sky is the limit but this was getting worryingly close to fulfilling the prophesy. Readers with vertigo will notice the intrepid Publisher’s constricted body language and how he is looking inwards and not outwards in the photo, inclined as he is to wearing a safety belt at such heights.

But neither Carlo (left) nor HMSHost’s irrepressible Suredj had any such fears, as our picture shows them pointing out their respective outlets far below.

Such a day, and such images, besides being fun and educational, underline the enormity of the task in building a new airport, let alone getting it and its commercial offer running on time.

It requires co-operation and team spirit, both within organisations and between them. The mutual bonds between BIAL, Nuance/Shoppers’ Stop and HMSHost were there for all to see yesterday. Unless, like The Moodie Report at the top of the tower, your eyes were clasped shut.