Delhi airport gets third, and India’s longest, runway (Lead)

August 21st, 2008 - 6:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) A third runway at the Indira Gandhi International Airport was inaugurated here Thursday, with fire tenders extending a traditional water cannon salute to an Air India Boeing-777 aircraft - the first to land on the 4,430-metre strip, also the longest in India.The 75-metre-wide runway, which the developers GRM Group says has been readied some six months ahead of schedule, is christened “11-29” and is also among the longest in Asia, with the capacity to handle new generation aircraft like the Airbus A380.

“Together with the Terminal 3 integrated passenger area we are building, the new runway will be India’s new gateway to the world when it welcomes participants at the 2010 Commonwealth Games,” said Kiran Kumar Grandhi, business chairman of GMR for airport projects.

Among those present at the inauguration event, just some 10 metres away from the new runway, were Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and G.M. Rao, chairman of infrastructure-to-energy major GMR Group.

The airport project in the capital is being implemented by Delhi International Airport Ltd - a consortium led by GMR, with the state-run Airports Authority of India, Germany’s Fraport, Malaysian Airport and India Development Fund as members.

The inaugural event was not without its share of some anxious moments, when a stray dog ran on the runway just minutes before the scheduled landing of the Air India flight, much to the amusement of gathered guests.

The security guards then chased the dog out with their long batons.

Giving some more details of the runway, the organisers said it was equipped with the latest CAT-IIIB instrument landing system at both ends to allow compatible aircraft to land even when the visibility is as low as 50 metres.

“The total length of the taxiway is more than 15 km, built to Code F standards - both long and wide enough to accommodate the super-sized aircraft such as Airbus A-380,” GMR chief executive for airport development, I.P. Rao said.

“Over 650,000 tonnes of asphalt has been used for its construction - equal to the material required for a 100-km long, four-lane expressway.”

The runway, the officials, said would double the airport’s peak-hour capacity from 35-40 aircraft landing and take-offs an hour to around 75. The existing two runways handle nearly 700 flights a day.

While the organisers claimed it was the longest in Asia, the credit actually goes to the Qamdo Bangda Airport in Tibet, which is 5,500 metres long.

According to the civil aviation minister, a new domestic terminal will be ready by the end of September while the new international terminal (T3) would be ready by early 2010, ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

“We have set aside Rs.90 billion ($2.25 billion) as capital expenditure for the development of Terminal 3,” the minister said adding that the modernisation and upgrade of the airports in Kolkata and Chennai would begin next month.

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