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Everywhere you go in this pulsating country the growth curves, whether economic indicators or passenger traffic increases, never cease to amaze.
Indira Gandhi International Airport, a public private partnership initiative between GMR Group, Airports Authority of India, Fraport, Eraman Malaysia and India Development Fund, is a dramatic case in point.
Delhi is already India’s second-busiest airport, handling around 20.4 million passengers this year. But it’s poised to get a whole lot busier. By 2026, GMR projects a passenger base of 82.7 million passengers, with international traffic soaring from 5.6 million last year to 25.7 million.
Those sorts of numbers can’t fail to excite, whether you’re an airport operator or a commercial concessionaire such as Alpha Future – the current duty free retailer at the airport.
For Delhi International Airport Limited Chief Operating Officer Andrew Harrison (top left with the Publisher) it’s an unprecedented situation. “Between 2008 and 2011 India has a total of 450 aircraft on order… it’s the highest number of aircraft ordered within a single window for any country,” he marvels.
“Five years ago travel by air was only for the privileged – that’s all changed.”
To cope with that growth, the airport must change – and change fast, he says. By 2008 Delhi Airport will have a domestic passenger terminal and a new runway capable of handling the A380 while the aging T2 will be modernised.
The ‘Vision 2010’ project will see a new integrated (domestic and international) terminal built in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
By that time the airport will be capable of handling 37 million passengers a year – with an ultimate design capacity for, wait for it, 100 million. The new terminal will replace the fast-fading T2 that is creaking at the seams to handle the current growth.
And there’s more, much more, further down the line. By 2021 another new domestic and international terminal will be built and, remarkably, a T6 will be added later.
But for now Andrew’s focus is mainly on the immediate future. The new terminal building will see a jump in aerobridges from 9 to 55 in two and a half years – “It’s a quantum leap,” he says with a chuckle.
Critically, retail will be placed beyond security, the reverse of the current situation. “I expect by the middle of next year some of the big commercial operations will go out to tender,” he says.
Andrew is a highly experienced airport executive who has spent nearly 20 years in leading airports such as New York JFK, London Gatwick and (with TBI). London Luton. But he shakes his head and laughs when I ask him if he has seen anything like the traffic explosion taking place in Delhi. “No, there’s nothing as exciting as this,” he says.
“In Europe we’re operating in such a constrained environment both in terms of land and environment. That’s not the case here. It’s also exciting to be part of an organisation that is very genuine and dynamic about getting the job done.”