Monday, October 23, 2017

Inside Hari Marar’s plan to make Bangalore airport the face of future airports

Serpentine queues, disgruntled travelers, and deficiencies in airport infrastructure are the signals of airport chaos. Generally speaking, the airport experience today is much reviled. Airports today operate with a sense of entitlement over your time.

Hari Marar, President and Executive Director of Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) wants to turn this experience on its head. He wants to reinvent, re-imagine and rethink passenger experience by creating a Smart and futuristic airport. And he is capitalizing on technology to launch a clutch of digital initiatives that not offer a seamless travel experience but also offer more in terms of facilities and choices for the discerning fliers.

In an interview with ETCIO.COM, Hari Marar, President and Executive Director of Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) shares the digital transformation journey of one of the fastest growing airports in the country.

What is one of the biggest challenges that Bangalore (BLR) airport is faced with?

The civil aviation traffic in India is growing at 20 % year on year. And BIAL is one of the fastest growing airports in India. BIAL has a terminal building with a capacity of 20 million passengers but over 23 million people travel through it. We have a terminal 2 coming up which will be the next big capacity expansion and will take another 4 years to build.

The traditional response to capacity challenges at airports has been constructing more which means pouring more concrete. But that’s time-consuming and expensive. The best way to work around this issue would be to reinvent, re-imagine and rethink passenger experience at the airport.

Ultimately, a terminal building is a physical box and its capacity can be defined by its throughput rate so if at a particular throughput rate, a terminal is capable of handling a certain number of passengers then at an improved throughput rate it could handle 30-35 million passengers. So to improve the throughput rate we decided to enhance the passenger experience.

Digital empowerment brings awareness. The digitally empowered customers are far more demanding, restless and discerning to the extent that what is excellence today will be par for the course tomorrow. Expectations on turnaround time are changing drastically. They are judge, jury, and execution. If the customer experience is shoddy they can hang you in the public domain instantly. With the power of social media customer-facing services like airports cannot afford to compromise on their customer experience.

As the President and Executive Director of BIAL, what is your vision for the airport?

We are committed to a futuristic and innovative vision of The Smart Airport - a digitalized, seamlessly connected, intuitive airport. BIAL has ambitious plans to tap into a variety of new and emerging technologies as part of this vision. A key driver to creating an airport-of-the-future is to embrace technologies that simplify, streamline and enhance travel processes.
23/10/17 Sneha Jha/Economic Times

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