Before the launch of Terminal 3 at the Delhi airport, domestic and international flights used to operate from separate terminals. After T3 become operational, three airlines- Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher moved in making it an integrated terminal for both international and domestic transit passengers.
Thanks to this integration, the number of transit passengers travelling via Delhi has increased.
According to airport officials, a transit passenger is someone, whose is required to change flights at an airport that connects to the terminal airport of the passenger’s journey.
This could be international as well as domestic passengers.
Due to lack of facilities, airlines were initially hesitant to use the Delhi airport as an interchange point but in recent years, the traffic demand on the airport has increased so much that the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) had to expand the transfer area of T3.
In 2009, when the T3 wasn’t operational, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) used to handle only 200 transit passengers daily.
In short term this accrues no financial benefit for the airport but it is expected that in the near future, this will help attract more airlines. This would increase the use of the retail area of the airport which in turn brings in revenue.
“Delhi airport was not considered as a transfer airport till 2009. We had separate terminals and there was no connectivity. Now we have everything under one roof. It all started with Air India when they decided to use Delhi as a transit point. Till 2012, about 9% of the total passengers (around 10,000 everyday) were transit passengers but in May 2014, about 23% of the total passengers were transfer passengers, which is a significant increase,” said Marcel Hungerbuehler, Chief Operating Officer, DIAL.
“We along with Air India initiated this and now the trend is catching up at a rapid pace. For instance, an Air India flight from Amritsar to Birmingham will fly via Delhi. Since Air India is the only domestic carrier, which connects most domestic destinations, the initiative worked and Delhi airport is on its way on becoming a hub of such transit passengers,” Hungerbuhler said.
With the growing number of passengers came the challenge to reduce the waiting time as Air India started complaining about congestion in the transfer area.
Unlike a few foreign airports, where transit passengers don’t need to go through the security drill, they will have to do so at IGIA before boarding the connecting flight.