'More opportunities at airport after upgrade works'

Construction workers carry roofing materials for the interim 'meeters and greeters' hall as part of the Brunei International Airport modernisation project in Berakas. Picture: BT/Ubaidillah Masli

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MORE business opportunities will be available at Brunei International Airport once upgrade works are completed in November 2014, according to officials involved with the project.

Agencies involved in the three-year "modernisation" project are looking to double the current annual passenger capacity. With the construction of a new terminal building and carpark, the airport's yearly passenger capacity is expected to increase from 1.5 million to three million.

The new facilities will increase the airport's floorspace by an additional 18,000 square metres, with about three to four thousand square metres of the space for tenancy to retailers, said John Bennet, a senior project manager from AECOM.

AECOM Asia Company Ltd has teamed up with Singapore's Changi Airport Consultants Pte Ltd to act as consultants for the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) for the project.

"We are trying to modernise and build a more iconic terminal building, which is comparable to most airports in the region... so that the passengers' experience will be further enhanced and facilities better from what it is now," said BEDB assistant CEO Julian Fung.

The renovation work will require business tenants, such as Delifrance and KFC, currently sited just outside BIA's arrival hall, to relocate to an interim "Meeters and Greeters" hall. This is due to construction works affecting the airport's main, short-term P1 car park, in front of the arrival hall.

Fung, who is also BEDB's Head of Infrastructure Development, told The Brunei Times that the vendors have already started to relocate to the interim hall, which is planned to open next week on March 7.

"There will be a number of kiosks in the Meeters and Greeters hall that will be ready for them, and they will be moving their facilities there. So the passengers (will) still experience the same facilities as they have in the existing arrival area," he said.

"But I believe in the new terminal building, there will be more spaces or increased floor area for food and beverage retail... So, the same tenants are welcome to establish themselves in the new terminal, through the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA)," Fung said.

BEDB's project manager Lee San San explained that the DCA as the building owner will ultimately decide through a tender process who the new tenants will be once the upgrade is completed. This means that the availability of future retail space for current airport tenants is not guaranteed at the end of the project depending on the contracts of respective existing tenants.

"The DCA will carry out their usual process maybe a tender process to solicit new tenders to come in to the new airport."

In the meantime, Lee said, business will continue at the airport with only "minor disruptions" anticipated.

"In the midst of our modernisation, we also need to make sure they (are) relocated at appropriate places, while still maintaining some business opportunity there," she said.

"But obviously, throughout this three-year construction period, we'll see some minor disruptions. But in the long run, it will be (of) benefit for the whole community, in terms of the business opportunities that will come in with the increased retail space."

However, under the commercial arrangement with the DCA, existing tenants are bearing all the costs of relocating to the interim hall, and will also have to absorb the costs of moving back into the new retail space at the end of the project should they decide to continue their tenancy at the airport.

"Pretty much to my understanding, it's all the tenants' costs but this gets factored into the commercial terms of their arrangement going down the road," Bennet said.

"We will be providing the basic shell and core facilities the platform, the essential drainage points, the power; but then as far as fitting it out, it all gets borne by them (tenants) as part of their business expense," the consultant added.

A source close to one the tenants, speaking on condition of anonymity, shared the businesses' concerns of not being compensated for the renovation and relocation costs.

"Instead, businesses have to move out and in the future, pay for new renovation costs after the airport upgrade is completed," the source told The Brunei Times yesterday. He also added that the tenants already had to bear similar costs during earlier upgrade works on the airport.

The DCA could not be immediately reached for comment yesterday.The Brunei Times


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