From a modest beginning in 2009 with less than 50 programs, GMR Aviation Academy has emerged as a Leader in training and development of global stature. Providing more than 800 Programs in various disciplines of Airport Operations, Aviation Security, Fire Service, Hospitality and Soft Skills, the Academy clocked a record number of trainees totalling 25,691 in FY 2015-16. GMR's story is fascinating and inspiring, as it all started with a young man hailing from an obscure village of Andhra Pradesh.
Started with the family business of trading in jute from the small town of Rajam on the Andhra-Odisha border in 1978, GMR Group has come a long way having emerged as a multibillion-dollar infrastructure conglomerate, with presence across energy, highways, large urban development and airports, and is known for building and operating some of India's iconic national assets. The three major airports presently being operated by GMR Group handle over 75 million passengers annually, making the company one of the largest private airport developers and operators in the world.
Way back in 1999, when Andhra Government and Central Ministry invited bids for Hyderabad Airport, GM Rao was among the first to be bullish about aviation sector. With a mission to establish Hyderabad prominently on the global aviation map,GMR forayed into Airport Infrastructure Development and The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), the first of its kind PPP model airport of India without Government's direct control, commenced commercialoperations from March 23, 2008. For GMR Group, the infrastructure major with abundance of experience in building massive projects of national importance, RGI Airport was maiden venture in the complex airport space. Hence, operating and managing the state-of-the-art airport was a tough task for GMR.
"There were two options; we could either recruit the entire lot of 600 odd personnel from Airports Authority of India's (AAI) airports or select technically qualified people from non-airport discipline and train them before the commissioning date," says S. Bommidala, Chairman, Airport Sector, GMR Group. For the top management of GMR who are known for their vision, innovative thinking and passion, it did not augur well to poach large number of experienced personnel from AAI, as it may have caused a vacuum and operational disruptions in its Airports across India. The company also believed that recruiting people who are running the state owned Airport Company would carry their baggage, which may not work well in the new state-of-the-art Greenfield Airport.
Before commencing the operations of RGI Airport at Hyderabad, GMR deputed nearly 100 of newly recruited personnel from non-airport space to "Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad" (MAHB) and got them trained and certified. For training the remaining nearly 500 personnel, the company identified those with the flair for training from amongst the Malaysian trained personnel in various facets of Airport Operations & Management and subjected them to "Training of Trainers" program in the "Malaysia Airports Training Academy" (MATA) in batches. "By the time we started operations at RGI Airport, we not only had enough manpower; but also a pool of trained trainers on board," claims P.S. Nair, CEO- Corporate, Airport Sector, GMR Group. Indeed, 600-trained personnel were not enough for GMR Group, as they were also involved in the commissioning of Indira Gandhi International airport's Terminal 3.
"Institutionalizing the Airport and Aviation Training arrangement was imperative in the context of emerging needs of training workforce. It was not only for successfully commissioning the Terminal 3, but also for sustainable rendering of best in-class service quality of international standards," explains Nair. In 2009, with a main campus at the erstwhile project office at RGI Airport and satellite campus at IGI Airport, New Delhi, GMR Aviation Academy (GMR AA) was born as an offspring of GMR Airports" Holding Company " "GMR Airports Limited." With identified trainers who underwent the training of Trainers program and retired senior functionaries with proven track record on the board, the Academy grew quickly and in a short span of time they trained nearly 1,800 personnel of the GMR led Airport Companies at Hyderabad, Delhi and Cebu (Philippines) based on a scientifically designed Training Needs Identification (TNI) program.
Today, GMR AA's trainings are not limited to GMR Airports' own personnel.Like any other GMR establishments, over the years, the Academy has emerged as a global gateway for Aviation learning in the country for aspiring aviation students and allied agencies in India and abroad with full-fledged campuses in Hyderabad and Delhi. GMR AA conducts training programs accredited by Airport Council International (ACI), International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) of India with focus on Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions.Nair proudly says, "In 2009, we started with less than 50 programs. Now, we offer about 800 programs in various disciplines of Airport Operations, Aviation Security, Fire Service, Hospitality and Soft Skills. What makes these programs unique are the fact that they are designed by the time tested 'Trainer Plus' model promoted by the ICAO and the on-the-job training at the world's top rated airports at Delhi and Hyderabad."
The Academy imparts quality education through highly skilled and experienced faculty members who bring vast and diversified learning of many decades from the field of airport operations, airlines services, air traffic control & navigation services, cargo operations, safety, security and from aviation corporate world. They provide short term and six months certification training programs in various facets of Airport Operations encompassing Aviation Security, Terminal and Airside Operations, Airport Rescue & Fire Fighting, Cargo Handling and so on. In addition to that, GMR AA's six month certification course in Airport Operations that is open to fresh graduates are highly acclaimed and the trainees are absorbed by Airlines, Airport Operators, Hospitality majors and many more in India and abroad. Similarly, the six months Residential Basic Fire Fighters Course (BFFC), open to 10+2 candidates is patronized by the industry and the candidates are absorbed in India and abroad even before they pass out. GMR AA also offers one-month Screeners Certification course for both Aviation and Non-Aviation personnel.
The strides made by GMR AA and its leadership have been acknowledged by other countries. Recently, the Oman Airport Management Company (OAMC) of the Sultanate of Oman, responsible for the management and operation of Muscat International, Salalah Airports and the new airports of Ad Duqm, Sohar and Ras Al Hadd., deputed 92 Fire & Rescue personnel for an intensive Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Refresher course training to the Academy. "Here, we are trying to build an Academy of global standards to support aspiring students from abroad who want to be a part of growing aviation industry," says Nair. At present, GMR AA's popular training schemes with significant employment potential are being aligned with the "Known Skill" programs of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the National Skill Development Fund (NSDF).
While, the persistent lack of quality trainings in Aviation Industry has been a known fact, by imparting unmatchable quality of education, GMR AA has emerged as a Leader in training and development of global stature.As a result, from a modest 1,018 trainees in 2011-12, the Academy clocked a record number of trainees totalling 25,691 in 2015-16. As goes the saying, "the visionaries can never rest," the world can certainly expect the rise and rise of GMR Group and its state-of-the-art establishments.
S. Bommidala, Chairman, Airport Sector
Srinivas Bommidala joined the GMR Group as one of the founding Directors in 1996, and lead the team, which set up GMR's first IPP in Chennai in 1998. As the first Managing Director of Delhi Airport, he led the transition of Delhi Airport from a public owned entity to a public private partnership enterprise. In 2007 he took over as the Chairman of Urban Infra & Highways Sector. During this period, GMR Highways emerged as one of the largest National Highway Developer in the country.In 2011, Mr. Bommidala took over as Chairman - Airports Business. GMR Airports today is counted amongst the top five airport developers in the world. GMR Group's airport portfolio comprises of Delhi International airport (capital airport of India), Hyderabad International Airport (India),Mactan Cebu Airport (Philippines) and Mopagreenfield airport in Goa which is under development. GMR Airports also has developed presence in the airport value chain with investments in Duty free, air cargo, MRO and related businesses. In addition, he spearheads the Commercial Property development at New Delhi and Hyderabad airports.
PS Nair, CEO - Corporate, Airports Sector
Nair joined the GMR Group in 2006 and was the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the ACI best rated GMR Hyderabad International Airport. He played an instrumental role in successful commissioning of the Hyderabad International Airport ahead of schedule and laying down the operating systems that lead the Airport to the world's No.1 position in 'Airport Service Quality (ASQ) rating by the ACI. A Master of Arts in Political Science/Public Administration with a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Sector Management from Leeds University, UK, Nair has over 37 years of diverse experience in the Airport Sector - both in the public and private domains.