New airport to improve Hyderabad’s brand image

March 24th, 2008 - 2:00 pm ICT by admin  

(News Analysis)
By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, March 24 (IANS) With the new international airport commencing operations near here, the brand image of Hyderabad is to go up, attracting more investment in IT, biotechnology and other industries. The swanky Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, which has come up 30 km south of the city, is described as the new icon of this IT hub, home to many software giants.

If Hyderabad IT and Consultancy (Hitec) City at the once sleepy Madhapur village placed Hyderabad on the world IT map in 1990s, the new international airport is expected to transform the city, especially the area off the highway linking Bangalore into a business hub and attract huge investments in various sectors.

Though some air passengers are complaining of the long time they take to reach the new airport (the older airport was in the heart of the city), business leaders feel the state-of-the-art and spacious facility would help Hyderabad become a world-class city.

The Rs.25 billion airport, on over 5,000 acres of land, became operational Sunday, shifting all the operations from Begumpet airport.

The new airport, with the longest runway in South East Asia and A380 compatible, can handle 12 million passengers a year in the first phase. Its ultimate capacity is 40 million passengers and one million tones of cargo per annum.

“With this wonderful facility, Hyderabad can now have air connectivity to all key cities in the world. The city has immense business potential. I am sure many airlines will connect it to the global destinations,” Atluri Subba Rao, chairman of the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FAPCCI), told IANS.

“Air connectivity is the most crucial aspect for any city to grow as a major business centre. Any businessman keen to invest in a city will look for good air connectivity,” he said.

Rao pointed out that the 75-year-old airport at Begumpet had no room for further expansion.

The GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL), the developers of India’s first greenfield airport in public-private partnership, feel that Hyderabad is well positioned to become a key hub — like Dubai and Singapore.

Several airlines are waiting to connect Hyderabad. The British Airways is to launch flights from Heathrow from Oct 27. There will be five flights each week on a Boeing 777 aircraft. The Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, plans daily flights from June.

Emirates and other airlines plan to increase frequency. The developers expect at least 30 percent increase in frequencies to the Gulf, a key region considering the large number of people from Andhra Pradesh employed there.

The number of passengers is expected to rise from 7 million to 8.4 million passengers in the first year of operations. This would include 2.4 million international passengers.

The growth projections for the first year, however, are conservative considering that the city recorded the highest growth rate of 44 percent as compared to other metro airports in India.

Presently, 21 airlines (11 international and 10 domestic) serve more than 35 destinations. The airport handles 250 flights a day. By the end of the current fiscal, the number is expected to go up to 300-350 flights.

The airport is also expected to become a cargo hub in Southeast Asia. It is presently handling 45,000 tonnes of cargo every year and the same is expected to go up to 60,000 tonnes by 2009 and to 100,000 tonnes by 2010.

The airport has a world-class cargo terminal and cold chain infrastructure, which will boost cargo operations. DHL has announced that the new airport would be its cargo hub.

“This airport will give further impetus to the development of the city. The business will grow as Hyderabad is known for its IT and biotech industry,” said Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi.

“The brand image of Kuala Lumpur went up after the new international airport was set up there. We can expect a similar situation in Hyderabad,” said Kiran K. Grandhi, managing director of GHIAL.

The developers have built a five-star hotel at the airport premises and plan several commercial projects and a railway station.

The real estate prices around the airport have shot up 200 times. An aerial view shows that every inch of the prime land has been measured for the real estate projects.

Work on several mega real estate projects and special economic zones has begun or will start soon. The real estate developers have taken up housing projects catering to airport employees, techies and Non-Resident Indians.

The airport is expected to act as magnet to stimulate new investment around it. FAB City, India’s first chip manufacturing facility, is coming up near the airport. This cluster has investment commitments worth $7 million over the next decade.

The mega infrastructure projects like world class Outer Ring Road and Elevated Expressway and the proposed Metro Rail are expected to give further impetus to this development.

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