Exclusive terminals planned for low cost carriers

August 10th, 2008 - 3:27 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sanjay Singh
New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) The new domestic terminal coming up at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport here is being planned as “no-frill terminals” to help low-cost carriers (LCCs), a senior official of the company developing the airport said. With the cash strapped LCCs paying the same charges as any other scheduled carrier, no-frill airport terminals are seen as a possible answer to help them cope with losses on account of soaring aviation fuel prices and operational costs.

“This is expected once the Terminal 3 (T3) - coming-up adjacent to the 3rd new runway - becomes operational by 2010,” Andrew Harrison, the chief operations officer (COO) of the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), the company developing the airport, told IANS.

DIAL is a subsidiary of the GMR Group, a leading airport and infrastructure developer.

Once the T3 terminal (1C for arrival and 1D for departure) becomes operational, all scheduled and international carriers would operate from the new terminal, he said.

“The LCCs would operate from the new domestic terminal which will not have aerobridges and will be simple in design,” Harrison added.

Moreover, no-frill airport terminals may also not have baggage conveyor belts or even buses to carry passengers between aircraft and airport. Air conditioning would also be optional.

But these terminals would provide connectivity across India by offering low operational charges to airlines, thus helping to keep tickets affordable.

“LCC’s can benefit and become more efficient as they would save on operational costs,” Harrison said.

Oil companies raised aviation fuel prices by 2.8 percent from Aug 1, adding to their woes. In Delhi, the fuel costs Rs.71,028 a kilolitre.

At present, all airlines have to pay the same charges and there is no rebate for no-frill low cost airlines.

An executive director of the Airports Authority of India of India (AAI) here said that separate no-frill terminals are already in the pipeline at the existing airports at Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai.

“In the US and many European countries, LCCs take off from secondary airports or during off-peak hours from main airports to help keep landing, parking and airport charges lower,” he said.

The GMR Group, developing the Delhi airport, also wants to build a no-frills terminal at Hyderabad airport by 2011-12. The new Bangalore International Airport is also looking at adding a low-cost terminal.

G.R. Gopinath, the founder of low-cost carrier Air Deccan, had first floated the concept of no-frill airport terminals. But it was not well received as passenger traffic was growing more than 25 percent a year and the industry was making good profit.

Gopinath formed a joint venture with the GVK Group, which is developing the Mumbai airport, Raheja Developers and Infrastructure Development Finance Corp to build basic low-cost terminals in small towns across India.

“The focus of this joint venture will be on small towns across India but it will also bid for big cities where such terminals don’t exist,” said an official associated with the joint venture.

“The strategy is to develop real estate and airports side by side to help both survive,” he said.

These will be bare-bone airports with the focus primarily on instrumental landing, night landing and runways and not so much on the terminal. Departure areas will have basic check-in and security facilities along with some seating and toilets, he said.

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