New Bangalore airport has many flaws, says ministry

By V.S. Karnic,

Bangalore, There is fresh trouble for the much-delayed and controversy-prone Bangalore International Airport coming up at Devanahalli, about 30 km from the city.

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Surprisingly, the civil aviation ministry, which had approved the build, own and operate (BOO) project, now says many aspects of the airport are wrong, technically as well as aesthetically. And the structure the ministry finds lacking in international standards is almost 90 per cent complete!

The airport, with its runway capable of taking the world’s largest airliner A-380, is to be ready for operation by April next, that is in about ten months’ time.

The builder, Bangalore International Airport Authority Ltd (BIAL), received the letter in the second week of May and has not yet replied to the ministry.

A statement released by the company to the media did not touch any of the points raised by the ministry’s letter. It merely said BIAL has received “the letter from the Ministry of Civil Aviation with recommendations on the technical and aesthetic aspects of the new Airport. The letter states that these remarks are suggestions and could be points of consideration.

“Through the concession agreement, BIAL holds the responsibility to build, own and operate the new Bangalore Airport. We try our best to incorporate suggestions that come to us which could make an impact on the passenger service and experience. These suggestions are also being evaluated carefully against the budget and time line available. Work at BIAL is on schedule and the airport will be ready for operations in April 2008,” the statement added.

BIAL spokesperson Anjana Kher Murray, who released the statement, declined to answer questions on the points raised by the ministry and the impact it could have on the operations of the airport, particularly on the airlines and prospective passengers.

She, however, told IANS that the company was evaluating the suggestions and would respond once that exercise is completed. Murray said she was not in a position to say when exactly a reply would be sent to the ministry.

Last year too the civil aviation ministry had faulted the design and the company had made alterations and had them approved. Now as it heads towards completion comes the bombshell from the ministry. With just about 10 months to go to begin the operations, there is unlikely to be any major changes, BIAL sources said.

The redesign last year had added to the cost and the company is unlikely to incur additional burden, the sources said.

A new airport for Bangalore has been in the making since May 1999 when Airports Authority of India and the Karnataka signed an MoU. BIAL came into picture in early 2000.