With the growth in the aviation industry and increasing security concerns airport security is becoming a big business
The growing rush of passengers at India’s airports, whether those coming and going out of country or those traveling within, is stretching the limits of airport infrastructure. With the Commonwealth Games right around the corner, the situation is going to get worse.
Or should we say better?
With the increasing number of travelers, the necessity of providing security to them is also increasing, and with it, the demand for the manufacturers of security equipment.
What is the opportunity?
To meet the projected demand, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is taking a lot of initiatives. With the Ministry announcing 500 new airports (as of now there are only 80 operational airports in the country and approximately 30% of them handle more than 90% of the traffic) by the end of year 2020 and some of the old ones getting a face lift, airport infrastructure and security has become a hot area. Security is anyway a sensitive issue, especially in the face of a growing threat of terrorism. According to a report by Frost and Sullivan on the Asia-Pacific airport security equipment market, most of the security demand is likely to focus on high-tech equipment, such as digital surveillance technology, fire and explosive detection equipment, perimeter control equipment, network technology for inspection control equipment, and warning systems.
The security equipment to be deployed at airports is bought by the airport operator.
There are two kinds of airport operators—government operators, like the Airports Authority of India, and private airport operators, like in Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
For buying the equipment required by the airport, these operators have to follow the guidelines set up by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). BCAS is an autonomous government body that is in charge of setting the standards for security in the civil aviation industry.
|Projections for 2010|
|500 Fully operational airports|
|100 million Total passengers|
|3.4 million tones Cargo|
It is this organization that issues guidelines for airport operators to keep in mind while going for security equipment. These guidelines are generally in the form of technical specifications and parameters of security.
Says HJ Dora, Head in Security, GMR, “BCAS provides us with the parameters and we issue tenders. After the applications arrive, we judge them against the parameters provided by the BCAS and list down those who meet them and also our specifications. Choosing a supplier is entirely an airport operator’s decision. No government body deals with it. The government’s role ends with laying down the parameters”.
Sometimes, however, the parameters set by the BCAS can also define the number of equipment required. For instance, if the BCAS specifies that there should be a watchtower at every 100 meters, then this specification makes it clear that the operator has to have a particular number of those to follow the parameter set by BCAS.
In case of small requirements mostly a national tender is floated, and in case of large requirements international tenders are floated. An airport operator cannot buy the requirements without following the procedure of a tender. Though the final selection is the operator’s prerogative, it still has to follow the process of issuing tenders. Also, insiders say that single tenders are not viewed positively in this industry. Single tendering means sending the tender to one particular party. The suppliers and manufacturers are in touch with BCAS, which makes it easier for them to manufacture equipment according to the set parameters.
The process of procuring the equipment takes some time, which often leads to delay. Explains Dora, “It takes some time to procure the equipment since it is a long procedure. It happens in a phased manner”.
The new airports being built have an individual capacity to handle more than 40 million passengers and one million tonnes of cargo annually and the number of aircraft flying is going to touch 1,100 before the Commonwealth Games begin.
The need for security equipment, therefore, is growing in tandem with the growth in the number of airports and travelers. The demand is not limited to the new airports. From time to time, airport operators have to upgrade the equipment to keep abreast with the changes in technology.
Says Dora, “Airport security has become a very large business and as new technologies keep coming up and the existing ones keep getting upgraded, the demand is always there. All the airports are constantly upgrading their security and equipment, and this forms a major part [of the demand]”.
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