Thursday, July 15, 2010
COME Wednesday passengers landing at the new Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) in New Delhi will be in for a big surprise.
Seeing is believing.
This airport is twice the size of our KL International Airport, and the current terminal in Delhi pales in comparison with the new airport.
The new shiny glass and steel Terminal 3 (T3) not only gives Delhi a new landmark, it has become a ‘‘symbol of the country’s aspirations as an emerging global power.’’
T3 sprawls over 4 sq km, has 78 aerobridges (four of which will be used for the A380), has 168 check-in counters, 95 immigration counters, 63 elevators and 35 escalators.
There are 97 automated walkways but you will still have to walk a distance to reach your gate.
Parking has been a sore point at the airport but all will change with the opening of the new multi-level parking complex that can house 4,300 cars and this is also the largest multi-level car parking facility in India.
T3 can handle 34 million passengers per year and there is enough land to expand the airport to cater up to 100 million passengers. About 30,000 people were hired to build the airport.
You will be spoilt for choices in terms of duty free and eateries, child care area is available and you can even catch a glimpse of the works of famous Indian artist displayed all over the airport.
What catches the eye is the larger than life pictures of people in their traditional garb from the various states and these are used as signages for the washrooms so that you do not miss a beat.
Built in record 37 months at a cost of US$2.6bil, a Malaysian company, Malaysian Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), is part of this mamonth development via a consortium.
The other members of the consortium are India’s infrastructure group GMR (with 56% stake), Airport Authority of India (24%), and both MAHB and Germany’s Fraport have 10% each. They will manage the airport for 30 years.
In India you cut the ribbon before you start operations, unlike here where we start operations and later call in a VIP.
So on July 3, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the airport so that it can open its doors to passengers on July 14. The airport is among the ten biggest in the world. Manmohan is hoping it would be top 5 soon, but warned that safety and maintenance should be the key focus.
The maintenance bids will be out soon and Faber Group Bhd is hoping to bid for that.
Currently, the domestic airport is a distance away from the international airport, but all that will change as both domestic and international are going to be in T3, which has four piers, two each for domestic and international.
Hence, travellers will not have to worry about walking to the aircraft in the hot summers and cold winters.
Connecting the airport to the city is Delhi Metro, and the plan is to complete it before the Commonwealth Games in October.
There will also be a 1,000-room transit hotel on top of the airport. It is an incredible idea given the fact that international arrivals peak at night when domestic flights are scarce. International passengers wanting to fly domestic have to spend a night in Delhi or at the airport.
Now there is a choice with the hotel and the Metro. But whoever that is going to manage the transit hotel should be mindful that there are budget travellers too landing at IGI and should price the rooms accordingly.
Also travellers have found that most duty-free shops at the airport only accept US dollars, hence the need for the option to pay in Indian rupees.
Source: The Star