New Hyderabad airport all set to take-off

March 21st, 2008 - 2:15 pm ICT by admin  

Hyderabad, March 21 (IANS) The new Hyderabad international airport is all set to take off — from early hours of Sunday. The developers are busy giving final touches to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad, about 30 km from the city centre.

A Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt will land at 00.25 a.m. Sunday, marking the formal launch of the new facility and shifting of all civil aviation operations from the existing airport at Begumpet in the heart of the city.

The airport developers Thursday announced that they received a nod from the civil aviation ministry to start operations from midnight of March 23.

The airport, inaugurated by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson March 14, was to commence commercial operations from March 16 but the ministry of civil aviation put off the launch at the last minute.

Upbeat over getting the final nod, GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL) announced that it would not collect User Development Fee (UDF) from outbound international passengers for the first five days of operations.

The joint venture had announced that no UDF would be levied on the domestic passengers for now and $25 would be collected from only outbound international passengers. The UDF will be levied from March 28.

The GHIAL has also announced that car parking would also be free for one week. The row over UDF, hefty ground handling charges and poor connectivity to the new facility had infuriated a section of passengers and low-cost airlines, resulting in a week’s delay in commencing the commercial operations.

The row over ground handling charges between some airlines and the ground- handling operators Menzies Bobba Ground Handling Services, Air India and Singapore Air Terminal Services was settled with the intervention of the ministry.

Some airlines, especially the low-cost ones, were unhappy over ground handling charges of Rs.20,000 per flight fixed by the operators. The new rate has been reportedly fixed at Rs.9,000.

India’s first greenfield airport built in public-private partnership was completed six months ahead of the schedule. It is seen as a model for public-private partnership in infrastructure projects.

The Rs.25 billion airport with the longest runway in Southeast Asia has been built by GHIAL, a joint venture in which GMR Infrastructure Ltd holds 63 percent, Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad 11 percent, AAI 13 percent and the Andhra Pradesh government 13 percent share.

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