How IGI Airport may emerge as India’s first true global hub

NEW DELHI: The capital’s IGI Airport is on its way to become the first global hub of India. The Modi government is working with Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), Tata Group airlines led by Air India, IndiGo and other stakeholders to make IGIA — India’s busiest airport — its first true hub.
“Globally, hub airports are dominated by one or two airlines. That was not the case in India so far. As a novel idea we are trying to develop that (at IGIA) with one or two airlines so that we can provide seamless transfers for international to international, international to domestic and vice versa, and domestic to domestic passengers. We are trying to progress this as soon as possible to be able to provide wonderful (global connectivity) options to our travellers, which is not the case today,” Union aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told TOI on Monday.
The project is “work in progress” with both Scindia and aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal having held several meetings with stakeholders on the issue.
A hub airport requires both airlines and airport operator, among others, going their bit. The airport operator, DIAL in this case, has to provide a big and efficient transit area for seamless transfers. An air train linking different terminals is required so that passengers can go from one terminal to the other without any trouble. Currently travelling by road between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3/2 is a time-consuming exercise during peak traffic hours.
Mega home airline/s with strong domestic presence have to provide direct connectivity to rest of the world on wide body aircraft that see a significant demand for travel from that city or country, something that Tatas are going to do with Air India, as is IndiGo.
DIAL is learnt to have sought aviation ministry’s nod to start the global bidding for the about Rs 2,500-crore air train that will link T1, Aerocity, T3/2 with a partially underground, elevated and on surface track. The airport operator, say sources, plans to give the concession for the air train to a third party which will bear the cost for implementing the project and earn revenue through means like advertising. Passengers do not have to buy tickets for using the air trains.
“In case there is a gap between what the concessionaire expects to earn through advertising on trains and stations and the cost of construction, the same will need to recovered through an airport development fees (ADF). DIAL is waiting for the ministry nod to go ahead with the bidding, subject to the understanding that any funding gap will be met through ADF. In case of a gap, the airport operator will send the ADF proposal to the ministry, which will forward it to Airport Economic Regulatory Authority for determine the ADF amount and period for which the same will be levied on passengers as means of viability gap funding,” said sources.
When asked about the DIAL’s request for the proposed air train at IGIA, minister Scindia said: “We are evaluating that. This comes into the whole multi-modal logistics issue as well. We are in discussions with them and are looking at Gati Shakti and logistics plan. Couple of the stakeholders will have to sit together to try and develop a model based on which this project can be executed. That responsibility may lie with one or two agencies, but the (primary) responsibility lies with the airport operator. We are looking at Delhi Metro and see how that advantage can be accrued. There are access issues which we are trying to resolve.”
Delhi airport is currently the 10th busiest airport in the world. “The IGIA is at 7 crore (annual passengers) and will soon touch 10 crore. You are in the league of a JFK, Chicago,” Scindia said. The IGIA’s fourth runway will become operational early next year. Much before the end of this decade, the Asiad ’82-era T2 will be demolished to make way for a new terminal.

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