BIAL belly flops with Cargo Village

From outside, the rows of freshly whitewashed rooms look very much like soldiers’ barracks. On closer inspection, they are basically small rooms with a high roof, each separated at the top with a wire mesh. Welcome to the new air cargo office/warehouse facility at the Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL).

The 200-odd rooms (120 small rooms meant for freight forwarders and 80 large rooms for customs house agents) are part of the now four-month-old Cargo Village, created by BIAL to facilitate the cargo community. The rooms are scheduled to be handed over sometime this month. But even before the rooms get their tenants, there is general disenchantment about the facilities at the CargoVillage.

The Cargo Village had been inaugurated in December 2008 by members of the executive management of BIAL and executive office members of ACAAI (Air Cargo Agents Association of India) and BCHAAL (Bangalore Custom House Agents Association Limited).

But, so great is the disenchantment that senior members from the two associations make it clear that they would have nothing to do with the Cargo Village. This, despite the fact that BIAL’s CEO, Marcel Hungerbuehler and COO, Hari Marar both taking pains to point out to this correspondent that cargo development is a key focus of BIAL’s core business strategy.

“After almost a year of operation, we are delighted we have come so far, but we have to stabilise,” said Hungerbuehler.“We have to continue to work with all these (freight forwarders, airlines, etc) people, which is very important. Also, we have high plans for relatively lowcost efficiency.”