Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao, chairman, GMR Group often says that he put in his bid for the international airport in Hyderabad because he thought an airport was no more than a runway and a building. A successful entrepreneur, Mr. Rao has built large factories, power plants and roads, and saw no reason why building an airport would be any different. He did build the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) in Hyderabad but it turned out to be a task much tougher than what he had envisaged.
The ﬁnal product far exceeded the initial scope for the project. The initial project scope was to build an airport with a terminal that would handle seven million passengers per annum. But between the time when the plans were being discussed and the project had got underway, passenger air trafﬁc in the country had increased substantially. Moreover, Hyderabad is a hub for air trafﬁc in south India. The scope was then increased mid-way to 12 million passengers per annum. The GMR team had to go back to the drawing board to now design and plan an airport that could accommodate almost double the passenger capacity envisaged initially. And, the job had to be completed within the stipulated time period of three years.
It meant mobilizing additional resources, faster procurement, and developing a model that could accommodate further changes without causing much disruption to the existing plan. And, of course, it meant bringing project management skills of the organization to bear.
Increase in project scope poses huge challenge Infrastructure projects involve the following stages: concept, design, quantity estimates costing, ﬁnancial close, pre-construction activities (land acquisition, removal of encumbrances), EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction), project closure, COD (Commercial Operations Date), operation and maintenance (periodic as well as regular), ﬁnal maintenance (prior to handover), and handover. In the case of RGIA, the project scope was to build, own, and operate an airport of international standards with emphasis on high standards of safety and security, functionality and ﬂexibility, high level of service for passengers, modern architecture, efﬁcient operation and maintenance, environmental friendliness, and cost-efﬁciency.
“The increase in capacity posed a big challenge. We had to manage the change in the project scope and deliver a product that met the timelines. We used project management proactively get stakeholder buy-in at all stages to shape up the project as envisaged,” says a senior ofﬁcial from the GMR project team. The key stakeholders in the project at the design stage were Airports Authority of India, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the Bureau of Immigration, Central Board of Excise and Customs, Airlines, Central Industrial Security Force, Andhra Pradesh police and intelligence, and airport operations.
“The project management department held design review meetings periodically. The team would present the developments in design and get comments from the different stakeholders and incorporate those for further development. The team efficiently managed proactive involvement of all the stakeholders as the design evolved. Ultimately, we developed the design within the timelines and met international standards and stakeholders requirements,” said the official.
The role and responsibilities of the project management department were as follow:
• Overall project management to meet demand and ensuring adequate infrastructure design;
• Full integration of the various systems to enable smooth operation of the airport;
• Accommodation for staff providing critical functions;
• Catering to end-user requirements;
• Catering to increased demand for facilities;
• Ensuring no late requirements for additional works;
• Connectivity to the facility;
• Ensuring functionality of all systems;
• Adequate training, familiarization, and support;
• Support to address any unanticipated problems during the early days; and
• Anticipating operational problems in the early days and having adequate backup plans.
The mammoth exercise involved around 100 teams of contractors and sub-contractors, for example CSCE, Vanderlande, Siemens, NKI, L&T, Voltas, Honeywell, and Mitsubishi. An integrated approach by the project management team brought in cohesion among all the contractors.