Airport and Aviation Chief dismisses BIA’s low productivity report

Friday, 1 August 2014 00:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Says passenger handling up by 25% since 2013;  up 72.3% between 2009 and 2013
By Malik Gunatilleke Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. (AASL) yesterday clarified the ratings of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), in the wake of media reports claiming that Sri Lanka’s primary international airport performed poorly amidst other Asian airports according to an international survey. The Airport Transport Research Society (ATRS), which annually conducts research on airports as part of its ‘Global Airport Performance Benchmark Project,’ surveyed a total of 200 airports globally and rated the BIA 25th out of 37 surveyed airports in the Asian region. This ranking was in relation to the Gross Variable Factor Productivity (VFP) parameter which analysed data gathered up to 2012. However, the BIA still ranked higher than airports in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai of India, Haneda, Manila, and Tai Pei. In view of the recent media reports that cast a negative light on the BIA’s performance in the ATRS survey, AASL Chairman Prasanna Wickramasuriya stated that this was instead a positive depiction of the rapid development of airport services in Sri Lanka. “The media recently highlighted an erroneously misquoted report published by just one of the many societies that conduct studies of aviation services. However, several other organisations that are well-known for their research publications have rated Sri Lanka very highly within this field,” Wickramasuriya told a press conference at the Cinnamon Grand last evening. He said that organisations including the Airports Council International (ACI), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), SKYTRAX, International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were the leading agencies assessing the performance of international airports. According to the AASL, the BIA was ranked fourth in the Best Airports in Central Asia in 2014 by SKYTRAX while ICAO ranked Sri Lanka fifth in the region in its Safety Rank Audit of 2014. “Financially we are making record progress each and every year as well. All outputs including aircraft movements, passenger movements, cargo tonnage and non-aeronautical revenue have also increased over the past years,” he said. The AASL maintained that airport productivity should be assessed by comparing these outputs which have seen steady development. Meanwhile, Wickramasuriya stated that this was more a misinterpretation of the data rather than a problem with the methodology of the survey. The ATRS survey focused on three aspects of airport performance including Productivity and Operating/Managing Efficiency, Unit Cost Competitiveness and Airport User Charges. The report also mentions that the survey did not consider service quality differentials across airports which AASL claim is a key factor which has a direct bearing on airport users. The definition of the VFP parameter is particular to the ATRS. According to the other key aspects surveyed by this report, Sri Lanka has performed exceptionally well. The BIA was ranked at seventh position among the 37 countries based on cost competitiveness, ahead of airports in Gimpo, Incheon, Beijing, Bangkok and Narita. Wickramasuriya explained that passenger handling had increased by 25% since 2013, adding that a 72.3% increase was seen between 2009 and 2013. Elaborating on plans to increase passenger capacity at the BIA and the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA), he said that Sri Lanka aims to increase capacity to 21 million annual arrivals by 2020.