Indira Gandhi International Airport – spearheading the country’s aviation growth

Posted: 28 September 2007 | Unknown | No comments yet

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the Indian aviation sector is moving even faster. The aviation sector has clocked a phenomenal growth rate of 20-25% over the last few years and it is projected that it will maintain a healthy growth rate in the coming decade.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the Indian aviation sector is moving even faster. The aviation sector has clocked a phenomenal growth rate of 20-25% over the last few years and it is projected that it will maintain a healthy growth rate in the coming decade.

At the epicentre of this unprecedented growth is the Indira Gandhi International Airport, serving the capital city – Delhi. The airport, with a traffic throughput of 20.44 million passengers (2006-07), is the second busiest airport in the country and is expected to assume the top position in the country by 2011. Currently, the airport is served by nearly 80 domestic and international airlines, connecting more than 120 destinations across the country and the rest of the world.

The airport is operated by Delhi International Airport (P) Limited (DIAL), a consortium led by GMR Group – one of India’s leading infrastructure developers. Other partners in the consortium include Fraport AG, Eraman Malaysia, India Development Fund and Airports Authority of India, under the Public Private Partnership Initiative of the Government of India. DIAL was awarded the mandate to modernise and restructure IGI Airport into a world class facility, after an international competitive bid in January 2006.

DIAL took over the reins of the IGI Airport in May 2006 and has embarked on an extensive modernisation programme which will put Delhi Airport in the league of the world’s best airports. Currently the airport, with its two passenger terminals (for domestic and international flights respectively), is served by two runways (09/27 and 10/28). In May 2007, Delhi Airport joined the select club of airports across the world to host test flights of the Airbus A380.

Within the existing terminals, DIAL has brought about many changes to upgrade the facilities. Terminal 1 has undergone extensive modifications to both the interior and exterior to give a modern look. Seating, rest rooms, lighting and air conditioning have all been upgraded. DIAL has also introduced a wide variety of eateries across the airport to cater to the varied taste of passengers. In addition to this, DIAL has tied up with world renowned duty free operator Alpha, who are based in the UK. Through its joint venture, Alpha Future, they will run the duty free stores at Delhi Airport’s terminal 2. These stores are becoming increasingly popular with passengers for their excellent repertoire of premium perfumes, watches, cosmetics, liquor and tobacco.

While the existing facilities at Delhi Airport are catering to the growing traffic, the unprecedented growth in passenger and aircraft movement has placed enormous strain on them. The Master Plan, developed by DIAL, aims to expand the facilities in a phased manner to take care of the traffic growth over the next 30 years.

Under the first phase of the expansion, the airport will get a new domestic terminal with a capacity of 10 million passengers per annum and a new Code F runway by 2008. This terminal will boast state of the art features, including a 3 level in-line baggage handling system and a multi level car park. The runway, measuring 4430m, will be one of Asia’s longest and will enable Delhi airport to host commercial flights of next generation aircraft such as the Airbus A380. This runway will feature CAT IIIB ILS, making Delhi Airport one of the very few airports in Asia with parallel runways to be equipped with this system.

In addition, the existing international terminal (Terminal 2) is also undergoing a renovation process which will be completed by 2008. A 3 level in-line baggage handling system will be complemented by additional check-in counters and immigration and customs desks, to smoothen passenger handling. The terminal will also feature modern lounges and a wide variety of shopping and dining facilities.

However, the most important step in the modernisation process will be the construction of the new integrated passenger terminal (Terminal 3), which will be ready before the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010. This phase will have a total project outlay of Rs. 8800 crore (USD 2 billion), to enable Delhi Airport to build the capacity to handle 37 million passengers per annum. It is expected that the passenger traffic in Delhi will grow to 29 million by 2010.

Designed in consultation with Mott McDonald, a leading management, engineering and development consultancy and HOK, world renowned airport architects, Terminal 3 will feature 74 aerobridges and 30 remote parking bays for passenger embarkation and disembarkation. It is targeted that 90% of all passenger traffic at T3 will be handled via aerobridges. Six of these aerobridges will be compatible for the Airbus A380. India’s leading engineering company Larsen & Toubro has been entrusted with the tasks of design and construction on this project. Parsons Brinckerhoff International Inc. are the project management consultants.

T3 will be a state of the art complex, featuring common use terminal equipment and an advanced, 5 level in-line baggage handling system with explosive detection technology for greater efficiency and security. The check-in area will feature more than 150 check-in counters, including 29 self check-in counters. Passengers will greatly benefit, as check-in and security clearances will be faster and less obtrusive. For international passengers, more than 70 desks will facilitate emigration procedures.

The two tier terminal building will feature the departure complex on the upper level and the arrivals on the lower level. The roof of the building will have stylised incisions to allow daylight in, but will be angled to protect the interior from direct sunlight. The effect will create a calm environment and maximise the sense of volume, space and light inside. The use of natural light will reduce the dependency on artificial light during the day-time.

Post check-in passengers and baggage will cross a bridge across a canyon, from where they will be able to witness the arriving passengers on the lower level. This canyon will be one of the most striking features of the airport, with a roof to floor height of 27 metres.

In the terminal, passengers will be able to use a host of facilities, like a wide variety of restaurants, shopping and duty-free complexes and a range of other leisure facilities. Business travellers will be able to utilise the most modern communication equipment at the business centre and relax or conduct meetings in the executive lounges. The airport will also have a variety of hotels for passengers.

The arrivals hall will feature both standard and wide-bodied baggage reclaim belts. Passengers will emerge from baggage reclaim into the internal landside arrivals concourse, from where transit passengers would use elevators to proceed to the departures level. Four piers will provide access to the aircraft from the terminal and a further two piers will have swing gates for easy interchangeability between domestic and international operations.

Access to the new terminal will be via a 6 lane approach road. The Airport will also be connected, via dedicated high speed Metro line, to the city centre. This project is being part funded by DIAL.

In 2010, all international and full service domestic carriers will operate from Terminal 3, while Terminal 1 will be developed as an exclusive terminal for low cost carriers – which will be a first for India. In subsequent stages, the low cost carriers will also move to the new terminal complex. The cargo operations will continue at their present location and will be expanded. Later, it will move to a new larger facility at another location.

Terminal 3 will form just the first phase of the airport expansion. In subsequent stages, the airport will be further developed alongside the increase in passenger demand and more terminals and runways will be added, in a modular manner, to form a U shaped complex. It is estimated that the passenger traffic at Delhi Airport will rise to 46.2 million by 2015 and touch 80 million by 2025. At the same time, aircraft movements are expected to cross 0.38 million a year by 2015 and touch 0.6 million by 2025. Cargo volumes are also expected to increase at a steady rate and touch 2.13 million tonnes a year by 2025. In the later phases another runway will be built and the existing secondary runway (09-27) would be realigned to form a fourth parallel runway to cater to the growth in passenger and air traffic. The airport is being designed to accommodate an ultimate capacity of 100 million passengers per annum.

DIAL is also aiming to develop an ‘Aerocity’ around the Delhi Airport. This Aerocity will feature hotels, convention centres, malls and other business and recreational facilities for travellers. As a first step, DIAL has invited bids from leading developers of hospitality facilities for the construction of hotels within the airport complex.

Historically, cities have sprung up at the junctions of roads, oceans or rivers, but with the 21st century economy increasingly driven by the airports, they are fast becoming the hubs of commercial activity. It is DIAL’s aim to transform Delhi Airport into the show window of India and also contribute to the growth of the economy in the region.

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