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Show time at IGI Airport’s Terminal 3

Like every good host, Delhi is putting out its welcome mats at the Indira Gandhi International Airport for the one lakh visitors expected during the Commonwealth Games in October. Sidhartha Roy reports. See graphic

delhi Updated: Jul 02, 2010 23:54 IST
Sidhartha Roy

Like every good host, Delhi is putting out its welcome mats at the Indira Gandhi International Airport for the one lakh visitors expected during the Commonwealth Games in October.

Their first view of the Capital will be the massive new Terminal 3 (T3) which will not only welcome the city’s guests for the 12-day mega sporting event, it will also solve Delhi’s aviation needs for the coming years.

India’s busiest airport now has the country’s biggest and the world’s eighth-largest airport in Terminal 3.

Till about two years ago, flying out of Delhi was a dreadful thought for most passengers, especially in winters when the fog set in. The now demolished domestic departure terminal 1B, built during World War II, was bursting at the seams with Delhi’s ever-increasing air traffic. Finding a place to sit during peak hours used to be a struggle.

At T3, spread over 5.4 million sq ft, housing 21,500 sq metres of retail space offering a shopping bonanza, finding a comfortable seat will be the last thing on a passenger’s mind.

At present, IGI Airport accommodates 27 million air passengers every year in its two domestic and one international terminal. T3 alone will handle 34 million passengers every year, which will take care of the projected increase in footfalls at least till 2013.

The enormous size of T3 also means passengers will have to cover huge distances — from one end to another, its piers are separated by 1.2 km. This is where the travelators come into play. There will be 97 automated walkways at T3, one of the first in India.

The facilities being provided at T3 are not only an improvement over the existing terminals at the IGI Airport, but also mean that Delhi will have perhaps the best airport terminal in the country — both in size and style. See graphic

At present, in the absence of aerobridges, passengers have to travel in buses to the aircraft. International terminal 2 usually has only 10 functional aerobridges. At T3, 78 aerobridges will be employed to ensure that 90 per cent passengers can just walk into their aircraft. Quite impressive, considering that Singapore’s famed Changi airport has 64 aerobridges.

Better access

Like almost all international airports across the world, T3 will also have a high speed Metro link connecting it to the centre of the city within minutes—another first for any airport in the country.

The airport is also expected to be connected by road through more access points. At present, T3 can only be reached by National Highway 8 but a tunnel road connecting it to the Dwarka roundabout is expected to be ready by September. Plans are afoot to create a new access point from Dwarka to ease the pressure on NH 8.

Just the beginning

If you thought T3 is big, then wait till you hear the entire plan.

T3 is just the first phase of the master plan prepared for IGI Airport’s expansion. As the number of passengers increases at the airport and T3 reaches its saturation point, an identical twin of the terminal — T4 — will come up beside it, where the international Terminal 2 stands now. The next ‘module’ will come up later on the other side, where the Centaur hotel is located at present.

The number of passengers is expected to grow by about 10 million every year and touch 100 million passengers per annum by 2036. With the increasing traffic, more terminals, boarding piers and runways will be added to the airport in a modular manner to finally form a U-shaped complex.