Flew in and out of Mumbai on a business trip yesterday – was going there after a few months. I was dreading Mumbai airport’s terminal 1B (the earlier private carriers’ terminal) . Was I in for a surprise – the terminal is now a spanking new international quality edifice with a lovely wide road in front, an uber-cool glass facade and wide open check-in spaces inside. Loved it. Kudos to the GVK group who now run it. In an earlier life, I was part of a team that had been appointed by the Government of India to help in the privatisation of the 4 metro airports in India. We (a team of over 10 people drawn from 4 countries) toiled hard over 2 years. While all the complex stuff was nailed down, we just couldnt make the deal go through since political will seemed curiously lacking. To know that we were close to making a difference to atleast one crucial bit of India’s transport infrastructure and then realising that it might not happen, was a huge disappointment. Eventually, 5 years later, with an aggressive political dispensation in the ministry, it got done.
All my disappointment vanished when I saw the spanking new terminal. Indian private sector can do a great job on most things, if only government can create the right conditions and get out of the way. Go feel the quiet, efficient hum at Terminal 1B at Mumbai airport if you have doubts.