Mumbai Airport is the busiest and caters to the country’s financial capital, but is the only one without a bus shuttle—Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and New Delhi already have such an efficient service in place
Time and again, we are reminded that Mumbai is India's financial capital, home to India Inc and a major contributor to the national exchequer. But if you have just touched down after a harrowing flight, heaven forbid if you don't have a vehicle waiting for you.
Even as major cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata provide efficient and excellent airport shuttle services to passengers, the country's busiest airport Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at Mumbai is the only one which lacks such a shuttle service.
Moneylife has written on the plight of Mumbai's airport: Please See: You have landed at Mumbai. Where's the shuttle to go home? on 19th September, and the second part on 20th September BEST will start a dedicated Mumbai Airport shuttle but it wants a dedicated lane).
Transport experts say that if all other major cities provide such efficient shuttle services, it is even more important to start a similar service, with enough luggage handling systems and capacity to handle the high frequency of flights at Mumbai airport, considering the woes of travellers and growing passenger demand.
At the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), which is located 45km away from the city, the shuttle service started by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation connects well with important parts of the city such as Jeevan Bhima Nagar, HAL Airport, JP Nagar, MG Road, Koramangala, Hebbal and outskirts such as Whitefield, and Electronics City.
This air-conditioned Volvo service called 'Vayu Vajra', has gained popularity among commuters for its high frequency-one bus in every 10-15mns-and spacious luggage compartments. It also has easy en route pick-up points. The service is available 24x7, which is in sync with arrival and departure schedules of BIAL and the fare is affordable, ranging between Rs80-Rs200. There is also a non air-conditioned shuttle service to BIAL, known as 'Suvarna', which offers comfortable travel and affordable fares.
A similar successful service is available in Hyderabad. For the 22km distance between the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport and the main city, an efficient bus shuttle named 'Aero Express' provides comfortable travel for passengers. It also has enough luggage space along with facilities such as mobile plug-in chargers, television etc.
Aero Express is an air-conditioned, non-stop bus (Volvo) service, which reaches important points in the city such as the Secretariat, Mehdipatnam, Kukatpally, Hitech City, LB Nagar, Begumpet, Tarnaka and also to twin city Secunderabad. The one-way fare is Rs180 and the to-and-fro airport fare is Rs300. The shuttle service is available round the clock with a frequency of 30 minutes.
Kolkata's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport has a Volvo-based shuttle service in place. The West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation runs
air-conditioned buses every 30 minutes from the centre of town-Esplanade, connecting it with the airport. Volvo City Bus Services is a public-private partnership between the state's transport department and Kaushik Logistics in the Airport-Tollygunge route.
At Delhi airport, a recently started train service, the Delhi Airport Express, provides easy transport to passengers.
But as we have reported, public bus transport provider BEST is reluctant to provide a dedicated shuttle service to Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. It has demanded dedicated lanes to provide such a service. The absence of such a service is leaving passengers stranded at the airport terminals, for two hours at times, as cabbies often refuse to ply and there is a dearth of pre-paid taxis.
How long will passengers (not) be taken for a ride?
Indian domestic markets are more promising amidst the crisis in overseas equity markets. Therefore, investors should be prudent and adopt a wait-and-watch attitude in the equity market and not rush for the exit
While the domestic economy appears to be in better shape than those of the developed countries, stubbornly high inflation and the consequent aggressive stance of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have raised the possibility of GDP (gross domestic product) growth being lower than 7%. Developed stock markets have seen value erosion of 12%, while Indian markets have tanked 10% in three months.
According to brokerage firm IDFC, the demand scenario continues to be strong, with sectors like FMCG and retail clocking strong volume growth in the past three months. While some moderation is visible in certain segments of automobiles (the industry being an interest-rate sensitive category), demand for two-wheelers and LCVs (light commercial vehicles) remains healthy. There has been a sharp increase in deposit and lending rates, resulting in robust deposit mobilisation. Weak global demand has not adversely affected the Indian IT industry in its exports, as technology spending continues both in India and abroad.
Concerns on account of government policy to control inflation include the tight monetary policy adopted by the apex bank (325 basis points hike in interest rates since March 2010) has increased cost of funds (State Bank of India's prime lending rate, or PLR, is at an all-time high of 14.75%), impacting credit growth and discretionary spending in the economy. On the fiscal front, lack of positive policy triggers from the government has slowed down investment spends.
Moderation in commodity prices (likely on weak global demand outlook) and clarity on the interest rate cycle would be key triggers for Indian corporate entities for improvement in performance and consequently, earnings growth. When inflation declines and the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) lowers interest rates, it will be the trigger for improvement in sectors like infrastructure and capital goods, which in turn will kick-start the capex (capital expenditure) cycle.
As we are still in a high interest regime, investments have slowed down in infrastructure (power, roads, etc) and capital goods as rising interest rates have increased funding costs and pressured project IRRs (internal rate of returns). IDFC believes that order inflows are likely to be dull in the next few quarters, which will impact earnings visibility in FY13 and drive an earnings downgrade cycle. Havells and Kalpataru are the top performers in the current context.
Demand remains strong in the consumer goods sector with categories like shampoo, skincare, homecare and toothpaste continuing to see volume growth in the mid-teens, with no slowdown in rural or urban segments. Mature categories like soaps have slowed down to low single digits; but Hindustan Unilever and Godrej are still registering mid to high single-digit volume growth despite raising prices by high single digit levels. As a result, while revenue growth would sustain, margins would remain under pressure in the near term.
In the IT sector, larger players like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services are better placed to sail through the challenging times. IT spends typically react to any contraction or recovery in economic activity with a lag of 3-4 quarters and this could be the challenge for larger companies, if the downturn persists.
In the real-estate sector, developers are willing to negotiate with genuine buyers though they are not reducing prices officially. Absorptions in NCR are also witnessing a slowdown, largely led by land acquisition issues in Noida/Greater Noida and sharp price appreciation in Gurgaon. While end-users are adopting a wait-and-watch strategy, investor interest is low due to limited upside potential in the value of properties. Meanwhile, demand in Bengaluru is steady, with moderate price appreciation. However, the trend is gradually shifting to high-end residential projects.
IDFC expects prices to appreciate in the near term although a 15%-30% correction is required to drive absorptions in markets like Mumbai and Gurgaon.
In the steel sector, a combination of cost support, supply flexibility and China's relative strength are set to arrest the sharp fall in steel prices. Therefore, while the risk of a financial collapse persists, IDFC expects that prices in all regions are now at levels that have strong support.
Experts say that the recent decision to lift the export ban will give no respite to consumers as retail prices might increase due to traders who continue to charge high rates for fatter margins
After indefinite strikes by farmers and traders across Maharashtra against the decision to ban onion exports, the government has finally lifted the ban. The strikes were supported by political parties across the spectrum, but little has been done to bring down the prices at the retail market. Consumers continue to pay high prices due to traders and retailers who charge high prices for increasing their margins.
After the ban was imposed on 9th September, onion prices moved up to Rs20-Rs22 per kg in Mumbai's retail market—from Rs10 kg just a week ago.
Experts warn that retail prices might shoot up as retailers continue to charge high prices under the guise of an artificial scarcity and the excuse of the forthcoming festive season.
RP Gupta, director, National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) told Moneylife, "The decision was taken yesterday in the evening, so in two days' time, regular onion arrival will start. Considering the production, there shouldn't be a worry about price rise. But it is the retailer market where customers shell out high prices. Something should be done to regulate this market."
He added, "The government can consider distributing onions and garlic in the retail market through co-operative societies or the public distribution system (PDS)."
NHRDF monitors onion prices and market arrivals on a daily basis.
The government had imposed a ban on onion exports to check spiralling prices which touched Rs25 a kg in the retail market in New Delhi. The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Food fixed the Minimum Export Price (MEP) of onions at $475 per tonne.
Ashok Walunj, director—onion-potato market of APMC, Vashi, said that prices will be stable in the wholesale market. "The wholesale price, Rs10-Rs11 per kg, will remain stable. It will further stabilise once the fresh early kharif production arrives in the market." When asked about the prices in the retail market, he said, "The retailers are not in our control. So we have no say in the prices charged by them."
The current wholesale onion price in Mumbai is around Rs10-Rs11/kg, while in retail markets, it is at Rs18-Rs22/kg, depending on the produce.
Consumers have to continue with their tight household budget. "I keep reading there is a record production of onion, there is good monsoon, or some or the other political party demanding fair price for farmers. Farmers should be given a good price, but as a consumer, I keep paying the same price even despite all this news. In fact, it is always that I have to pay extra," said Sangeeta Jadhav, a homemaker.
A trader based in the Vashi wholesale market said, "After the decision, prices might just go down for a week or so—and it will again come back to the current level. Prices are bound to be in the same range and might even inch up given the festive season. However, this decision will help farmers, who sell it at a good export price."