Covid-19 testing setup for the passenger coming from United Kingdom, amid mounting concern over the new strain of the virus, at Delhi Airport in New Delhi.(PTI)
Covid-19 testing setup for the passenger coming from United Kingdom, amid mounting concern over the new strain of the virus, at Delhi Airport in New Delhi.(PTI)

Delhi airport’s Terminal 1 likely to be reopened from March 25

Airport officials said only a portion of the terminal will be made operational for now, as the ongoing expansion work of the building will continue. For now, the terminal will cater to approximately half the number of flights it handled before the pandemic-induced lockdown.
By Anvit Srivastava
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 01:43 AM IST

The Terminal 1 (T1) of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi international airport will resume domestic flight operations starting March 25, according to officials privy to the development.

Airport officials said only a portion of the terminal will be made operational for now, as the ongoing expansion work of the building will continue. For now, the terminal will cater to approximately half the number of flights it handled before the pandemic-induced lockdown.

Officials in the know of the matter said the decision to reopen T1 was taken because of the increasing domestic flight operations in the country. Confirming the development, Sachin Badshah, deputy inspector general of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which secures the airport, said a decision had been taken to open T1 starting March 25.

“Earlier it was decided that the terminal will be made operational from March 28. However, the date has been preponed to March 25. CISF will have its adequate arrangements as required. Even when the terminal was closed completely, because of the ongoing expansion work, our staff was deployed throughout to secure the facility,” Badshah said.

The domestic terminal was shut last year on March 25, two days after international flight operations were suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. After two months, as air operations in the country resumed, on May 25, only Terminal 3 was opened. Later, Terminal 2 resumed functioning on October 1. Terminal 1, however, has remained shut due to the ongoing expansion work.

Asked about the ongoing expansion work at T1, Delhi airport operator DIAL (Delhi International Airport Ltd) refused to comment.

An officer from the Delhi airport, who wished not to be named, said the terminal building will start operating at half its capacity and will be open completely in phases as construction work is on in full swing.

“Only a portion of the terminal will be made operational now. Other areas are at present under construction. For now, roughly about 150 flights will operate in a day from T1 including both departure and arrivals. Before the Covid-19 lockdown at least 280-300 flights operated in a day from T1. The daily passenger footfall of the T1 before Covid-19 was also 43,000 to 45,000 passengers a day, which is also likely to go down by half due to the restricted flight operations. The operations are limited because of the ongoing expansion and as flights at Delhi airport are also yet to recover completely,” the official said.

Currently, IndiGo and GoAir flights are operating from the T2 terminal. Air India, Spice Jet, and Vistara are operating from T3. Another CISF officer said their staff will also be deployed according to the space that will be made available to flyers. “There can be a shortfall in the number of staff deployed if the terminal is opened with a limited capacity. We will ensure complete security of the terminal. Even when the terminal was shut our security arrangements were adequate and no one was allowed to enter the terminal building only after screening,” the officer said, requesting anonymity.

T1 caters to domestic flight operations at the Delhi airport. The domestic airlines operating from Delhi airport said they have not been officially conveyed about shifting their operations back to T1. However, some passengers who are booking their tickets for dates after March 25 are being informed that their flights will operate from T1.

Dolly Thakur, 35, a private teacher from Delhi, who booked a flight from Delhi to Patna with IndiGo airlines for April 28, said her air ticket mentions that her boarding will be from T1. “I had to reconfirm with the airline and I was told that the flight will operate from T1,” she said.

Officials from the airport said that the expansion of T1 will take at least a year and half to be complete and will double the passenger capacity from 20 million to 40 million passengers per annum. “The work will be complete by 2023. Under the current expansion plan the apron area of T1 will be expanded to 6.29 lakh sq metres from 2.82 lakh sq meters. The total area of the terminal (departure and arrival) will be 1.92 lakh sq meters, around three times of the existing 64,000 sq meters,” the officer said, wishing not to be named.

The newly developed facility will also ramp up the baggage screening capacity and also introduce boarding bridges at the terminal building to enhance passenger experience and reduce their hassle. “The baggage screening capacity will go up from almost 2,800-3,000 per hour to 5,000-6,000 per hour, almost double. The terminal till now had no boarding bridges but will have 22 when fully revamped,” the official added.

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