Monday, July 10, 2017

Indian in race to build Heathrow runway

London: Surinder Arora, one of Britain's most successful Indian entrepreneurs, has put in a bid to build a new runway and terminal at Heathrow which he has said will be £6.7 billion (Rs 55,600 crore) cheaper than the £17.5 billion (Rs 1.45 lakh crore) project envisaged by the company which owns the country's main airport.

Asked by The Telegraph whether he was confident of delivering on such an ambitious plan, Arora responded: "I am more than confident -I have taken on Bechtel (the largest construction and civil engineering company in the US) and an impressive array of advisers. I have spent tons of money on this project. If I was not confident of doing this, why would I take this on?"

Judging by his record in the hotel industry, Arora has to be considered a serious player, now that the government has more or less decided that extra capacity has to be built for the 21st century with a third runway at Heathrow.
Arora says he can do the job much better and cheaper than Heathrow Airport Limited, which he accuses of wanting a "monopoly". Arora's main argument is that competition is good for the passenger and for the airlines - and in drawing up his plans, he has consulted the world's top carriers.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' owner IAG, welcomed Arora's proposals. "The government should look closely at Arora's proposal as it would significantly reduce costs," Walsh said. British Airways is Heathrow's biggest customer.

The department for transport has estimated a new runway at Heathrow would bring economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to £61bn, and create as many as 77,000 additional local jobs over the next 14 years.

The question is who gets to build the new runway and terminal? The BBC last night broke the story that Arora had put in a bid - and this was confirmed today by the man.

Arora, who was born on September 22, 1958, in Sultanpur near Jalandhar in Punjab, came to Britain in 1972 as a self-confessed unruly teenager and began his career by working as a waiter in a hotel that he subsequently bought. He is today the suave chairman of the Arora Group he founded in 1979.

The number of hotels he currently owns is 15, with a capacity of 6,000 bedrooms. "There are three more under construction," he said. "Once these open, we will have 7,000 bedrooms." "The Arora Group really has three main businesses - Arora Hotels are only third of our business," he explained. "Another third is real estate and the final third is development."

"We do a lot of our developments for ourselves and certainly after the three airport owners - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - I guess we are probably the next largest landowner, (with) land, offices, car parks, buildings around the airports. So we have quite a decent size property portfolio."
09/07/17 Amit Roy/Telegraph