Within three days of the inauguration of Delhi’s showpiece Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, it has been hit by delays. Flight operations have been pushed back by at least a month.
International flights, which were to commence on July 14, will start two weeks behind schedule on July 28 while domestic operations, set to start July 31, will begin on August 27.
This means Indian and foreign carriers that were to soon shift to T3 will stay put at the old terminal.
Officials of the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) and the civil aviation ministry said trial runs and test flights would be conducted before T3 is thrown open for regular flights.
“Operations will be calibrated to ensure there are no glitches. To do everything at the same time is not possible and we have to see how various things work. Operationally, this is the way to proceed,” said civil aviation secretary M.M. Nambiar.
“It’s better safe than sorry. Fear of a Heathrow Terminal 5 kind of baggage handling chaos was weighing heavy on our heads,” said a DIAL official.
“Some airlines have asked for more time to train their staff and get used to the terminal.”
DIAL (Delhi International Airport (P). Ltd.) said ‘Terminal Process Proving Flights’ would be held at T3 on July 14 and 15.
Terminal Process Proving Flights are meant to reaffirm the operational readiness affording an opportunity to all stakeholders, including airlines, ground handlers, aviation oil companies, flight caterers, Air Traffic Control (ATC), concessionaires, duty free shops, airport operator, statutory agencies like immigration, customs, CISF etc. to carry out their functions in the complete turnaround of an actual flight, DIAL said.
“A project of this size would naturally have teething issues. There is nothing to be unduly worried about,” said Kapil Kaul, an aviation expert.
DIAL said it had been carrying out extensive trial of various systems and facilities.