Bengaluru Airport strengthens management after change in ownership

Bengaluru Airport | Photo Wikimedia Commons
With Prem Watsa’s Fairfax assuming control of the Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL), the airport has geared up to strengthen its management structure by bringing in talents from across the world.


Sources said that the new owners have decided to bring in people who had experience in running airports. “Many of our former executives have come back as the new owners are strengthening the management looking at the massive expansion project,” said a BIAL executive. In June, the erstwhile owner GVK group exited the project selling its remaining stake to Fairfax.


Among the many who have joined the airline’s core management team is Javed Malik as the Chief Operating Officer. Malik had left BIAL in 2016 to join Jet Airways as Vice President, Global Airport Services. Similarly, Kenth Guldbjerg has been roped in as Chief Commercial Officer. Guldbjerg worked in the airport division of erstwhile owners GVK and has global experience as he has previously worked with Copenhagen Airports and Newcastle Airport.


Among the other talents with experience of managing global airports who have joined BIAL recently is Tom Shimmin who has joined as Chief Projects Officer. Shimmin, who used to look after upgradation of Nasir International Airport in the Maldives, will be responsible for the major upgradation work that BIAL is currently undergoing.


Expansion work includes the construction of the second runway and a new terminal building (T2) to handle 45 million additional passengers by 2027-28.The expansion was fast-tracked due to the rapid growth in air traffic, which has put a strain on airport infrastructure. Bengaluru's airport traffic has grown over seven times to 22 million passengers in the past fifteen year. Bhskar Anand Rao has joined as Chief Financial Officer from Dubai-based Al Rashideen Group. Rao had earlier worked as CFO of GMR Infrastructure which owns the Delhi and Hyderabad Airport.


In March, BIAL had undertaken a board restructuring with the induction of Fairfax Chairperson Prem Watsa, two other group executives Chandran Ratnaswami and Harsha Raghavan, and HDFC chairperson Deepak Parekh as additional directors.


Traffic growth is faster than estimates and the airport has crossed 22 million passengers in FY17, one year ahead of estimate. Earlier, it was expected that the airport would cross the 22 million mark in FY18.


Plans for the new terminal too are being tweaked as a result. Now, the second terminal will be built to handle 25 million additional passengers in the first phase by 2021. The earlier plan was to build the terminal for 20 million passengers in the first phase. Terminal construction is expected to start next year.


Slot constraints in Chennai and Mumbai mean airlines have been unable to add flights from these two cities and that has worked in favour of Bengaluru. AirAsia India made it it's first base when it launched operations. Vistara also selected Bengaluru as it's second base while Jet Airways is developing the Karnataka capital as it's third base for international flights after Mumbai and Delhi. Jet has started flights from Bengaluru to Colombo and Singapore and has plans to connect the city to Bangkok and Amsterdam.

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