Bangalore: Rajeev Janveja is excited over where Illy Café — Italy’s premium coffee brand — has opened its first outlet in India.
A few steps from the overseas passengers lounge at the new international airport here, it is sure to lure people in to sip Illy’s famous expresso coffee, he says. “It is the passenger profile here that is even more exciting,” says Janveja, corporate chef at HMSHost Corp., a firm that operates eateries at airports and motels, mostly in North America.
Busy days ahead: The Bial-run airport is set to begin operations from Saturday. It expects to handle 12 million passengers in its first year.
The new airport, built and owned by the Bangalore International Airport Ltd (Bial), has seen its opening delayed thrice, and is now set to begin operations from Saturday.
Bial has spent Rs2,470 crore on the airport, and the vendors and concessionaires have invested another Rs1,000 to provide various services to passengers. The airport expects to handle 12 million passengers in its first year of operations.
HMSHost has invested $3.2 million (Rs13.8 crore) in nine outlets that include Pizza Hut and Barista, at the airport, a little less the $3.5 million in 12 outlets at the new airport in Hyderabad, which opened in March. “We expect better business here,” says Janveja.
His optimism is shared by other vendors such as Odyssey India Ltd, a bookstore company owned by Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd. Odyssey has four times the space in Bangalore than what it has leased at the Hyderabad airport, built and owned by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd. “There is a lot of IT and BPO crowd here, more than in Hyderabad,” says Babu Bellan, head of Karnataka operations at Odyssey. The younger profile of workers here and their higher disposable income make them the right customers for flowers and gifts at these stores, he says.
The new airport here also hosts Nuance Group AG, a global airport retailer, and Shoppers Stop Ltd, an Indian departmental store, besides a clutch of eateries designed on the lines of the Lal Bagh gardens in the city. Bial says its airport has a parking space for 2,000 cars, short walkways and ramps, and as many as 53 check-in counters for maximum passenger convenience.
“The plan for parking is as clear as the one for flights on the runway,” says N. Sathyanarayanan, managing director of Central Parking Services, a Bangalore outfit that will manage parking, trolley, porter and valet services.
State-owned Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corp. Ltd has said it will ply air-conditioned buses to the airport from different parts of the city. But concerns over connectivity remain in a city where traffic crawls at 10km an hour on arterial roads. “What is the use of a world-class airport, if there is no connectivity to reach there,” the Karnataka high court remarked on Thursday.
The carriers that will operate flights out of the new airport are already flying in more staff from cities such as Mumbai and Chennai. “There will be some teething problems; maybe for a day or two, and then it will be smooth,” says S. Ravichandar, deputy general manager of airport services for Jet Airways (India) Ltd.