New Hyderabad airport developers plan expansion

April 11th, 2008 - 11:46 am ICT by admin  

By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, April 11 (IANS) It is barely three weeks since the new international airport at Shamshabad near here commenced commercial operations, but its developers are already planning an expansion that will enable it to handle up to 20 million passengers a year. Work on the next phase of the country’s first greenfield airport in public-private partnership is expected to begin in six to nine months.

The modern airport with world-class facilities, which has come up at Shamshabad, about 30 km from the city, commenced commercial operations March 23. The old airport was located at Begumpet in the city.

Notwithstanding the initial glitches, the developers are confident that the ever-increasing air traffic movement at the facility would need expansion.

“We are already making plans for the expansion,” a senior official of the GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) told IANS.

The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), built at a cost of Rs.25 billion, is designed to handle 12 million passengers per annum.

Though the present passenger traffic is seven million per annum and the existing infrastructure is sufficient to handle passengers till 2012, the authorities want to remain ahead of time in providing infrastructure.

Part B of the first phase will handle an additional eight million passengers. This will take the total capacity to 20 million. Under this phase, the 105,300-square metre passenger terminal building will be expanded on either side.

The long-term plan of GMR-led consortium involves doubling the capacity.

“We will have a replica of this passenger terminal building and runway on the other side,” said A. Vishwanath, vice president, corporate planning, GMR.

The second phase will create an additional area of 430,000 square metres taking the total built-up area to 900,000 square metres.

The airport’s ultimate capacity is 40 million passengers per annum.

The airport with the longest runway in Southeast Asia has come up on 5,000 acres of land and a part of it is meant for commercial activities like hotels, a convention hall and shopping malls. The first hotel is nearing completion.

The airport is handling about 250 flights and 20,000 passengers every day. The number of passengers is expected to go up to 8.4 million and the number of flights per day to 300-350 during the first year of operations.

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

The average growth in passenger traffic during the last five years was 25 percent. At present 21 airlines (11 international and 10 domestic) serve more than 35 destinations.

With plans to develop Hyderabad as an international hub like Dubai and Singapore, the operators have already started promoting the new international airport to attract new international airlines.

A team of British Airways recently visited the facility as part of its preparation to operate flights from Heathrow to Hyderabad from Oct 27. There will be five flights each week on a Boeing 777 aircraft. Gulf Air, the national carrier of the kingdom of Bahrain, also plans daily flights to Hyderabad from June.

However, the opening of the new airport was not without teething problems. The developers claim they had already stated there would be problems. The problems ranged from connectivity issues to user development fee and ground handling to passenger comforts and even security check.

The developers, however, argue that all new international airports faced problems in the initial phase.

“Every new airport will have three phases. The first phase is havoc, which lasts around two weeks. The second phase is stabilisation and the third sustaining. Generally it takes three to four months for stabilisation but we achieved stabilisation on the fourth day,” he said.

“At Heathrow, 150 flights were cancelled in four days due to problems at the new terminal. Not a single flight was cancelled here,” he said.

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