A “New” Delhi airport in the making

Last week, GMR led consortium which runs the country’s biggest airport – Delhi international Airport, came up with a detailed plan for the expansion of the airport. This multi-phase plan looks like a culmination of last few years of planning and revisions which have been going on to add runway capacity, air traffic movement and terminal.

The group will invest INR 16,000 crore for the expansion which will involve doubling capacity of Terminal 1 (T1), increase capacity of Terminal 3 (T3), add a new runway and build another terminal between now and 2026. The air traffic movement will gradually cross 100 movements per hour, which could mean an addition of 15-20 flights per hour.

Eventually the airport will have three terminals – T1, T3 and T4 and all of them could have International and domestic operations together. The airport operator wanted to start International operations from T1 when IndiGo was to launch International operations, however the plan was shot down by various agencies which led to IndiGo and Spicejet operate their international flights from T3.

The new plan sees major changes on Terminal, Apron and Runway side.

Terminal

  • Terminal 1D and 1C will be expanded and merged
  • This new terminal will see the capacity double up to 40 million passengers per annum
  • Terminal 1A will be dismantled completely
  • Terminal 3 will see capacity increase from 34 million to 45 million per annum
  • 9 Baggage carousels from current 4
  • Increase in length of arrival baggage belt and two additional belts

Apron

  • Increase in code C parking stands to 82 from current 71 at Terminal 1
  • The new terminal will have 22 aerobridges and Visual Docking Guidance System (VDGS)
  • Fuel Hydrants for all stands doing away with the need of Refueler Tanker

Runway

  • New runway parallel to runway 11/29 will be built by 2021
  • Elevated Eastern Cross Taxiway to increase airside capacity

Flashback

The GMR led consortium bagged the rights to operate and develop the airport in 2006. First came the new runway in 2008, Terminal 3 came up in 2010, well in time for the Commonwealth games later that year. That month, the airport saw a little over 25 lakh passengers, 72% of which were domestic. There were serious thoughts then to shift all carriers to T3 and disband T1 completely.

Every planner who resisted this idea and DIAL which revisited the plan must have been very happy that they did not go ahead with this recommendation.

May 2017 saw the airport handle 54.3 lakh passengers, 75% of which were domestic, primarily fueled by IndiGo and its phenomenal growth at Delhi.

Multiple master plans were drawn out till date which included converting the present day T1 to cargo terminal and building new terminals at area occupying the existing cargo terminal or re-aligning runway 09/27 to make it parallel to the other two and providing a different area to Technical Dispersal of Indian Air Force.

As Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) went from one hurdle to another, including developing aero city profitably, the plans changed only to come up with a solid plan last year which was eventually approved by all the stakeholders including the ministry.

However, this led to another hurdle. Getting the airlines onboard to shift from T1 either completely or partially. With slots allocated based on the terminal due to the constraints like gates and terminal capacity being different and primary runway being used also being different, indecision was surely affecting expansion plans of low cost carriers.

Jewar Airport

On 24th June this year, the government cleared the plan for second International airport for the National Capital Region of Delhi. The airport will be located at Jewar, Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh. In all probabilities, GMR would bid for the construction of Jewar airport. However, the additional capacity at Jewar will definitely be a challenge for DIAL and thus expanding now makes sense for the operator.

Intermediate operational continuity

DIAL has refurbished Terminal 2, which was the International terminal before T3 was inaugurated. The terminal was intermittently used for Haj operations and the apron was used to park the aircraft of Kingfisher airlines after its fall.

DIAL tried various tricks up its sleeve to get one of the three operators at T1 to shift to T2. In absence of any conclusion, the airport operator has asked all the three airlines to partially shift to T2 effective October 2017.

Terminal 2 will have 74 Check-in counters and 9 X-ray machines in the terminal area along with 6 baggage belts. It will feature 6 aerobridges and 4 bus gates.

Future

Airlines in India have a very robust induction plan. Mumbai, Chennai & Kolkata will not have additional night parking in foreseeable future. Bengaluru and Hyderabad will not see additional capacity till early 2019. Delhi, on the other hand is not adding significant night parking space which will be a cause of worry for the airlines.

However, the additional area for T1, capacity increase for T3 and creation for T4 will give a big boost to air traffic at national capital and help compete with Jewar.

The master plan will be implemented in three phases. The first of which will be from 2018 until 2021, next between 2021 and 2025 with the last phase 2026 onwards. Terminal 4 will come up post 2025.

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