India’s 1st private jet terminal to open in Delhi this month
Delhi International Airport Limited, which operates Indira Gandhi International Airport, said it is working towards the commissioning of the terminal soon to support the movement of passengers flying on chartered flights from the airport.Updated: Jul 08, 2020 01:18 IST
India’s first general aviation terminal for private jets is set to become operational in New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, according to officials familiar with the matter. The facility promises faster turnaround of business jets and chartered planes, shielding them from the clutter of general passenger terminals, where they now compete for taxiing slots with commercial flights.
Delhi International Airport Limited, which operates Indira Gandhi International Airport, said it is working towards the commissioning of the terminal soon to support the movement of passengers flying on chartered flights from the airport. “It is the first such independent facility at any Indian airport to handle general aviation passengers. While the new terminal will be commissioned as an interim facility it will be equipped with state-of-the-art features and facilities including world class passenger lounges, retail, food and beverage [outlets] etc.,” DIAL said in a statement in response to queries from HT.
An official from the airport said the terminal may be operational as early as by the end of July. It is meant to be replaced by a larger facility in the future.
“The terminal has been designed in such a manner that it will have parking space for a maximum 65 jets of all sizes...The terminal also has the capacity to handle a maximum of 150 business jet movements a day. The average movement capacity of the terminal is 75 jets per day. This makes it a general aviation terminal with the highest capacity in entire south Asia,” said a second Delhi airport official who requested anonymity.
The terminal has been built at a cost of Rs.150 crore over one-and-a-half years by Bird ExecuJet Airport Services Private Limited, a joint venture between Bird Group and ExecuJet Aviation Group, an international business aviation company based at Zurich Airport in Switzerland.
A spokesperson for the company said construction work commenced on January 1, 2019. “In between, we faced a Supreme Court ban on construction activities owing to pollution in Delhi for three months. Then lockdown [for the coronavirus disease pandemic] also hampered our work. However, we have been able to complete the project by June 2020,” it said.
The terminal will also be able to handle Boeing 767 business jets and any Boeing 777 with a VIP configuration, the second official cited above said.
Before the national lockdown was first imposed in March to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease, around 1,300 scheduled flights operated from Delhi airport every day and an additional 40-50 small non-scheduled chartered or private planes also landed at and take off from the airport daily.
While private aircraft will still have to compete for take-off and landing slots with commercial flights, a Delhi airport official said that the new terminal will cut time , “because runway 29/11 -- the largest in Delhi -- is closer to the new terminal, and this will make taxiing time of these private aircraft significantly shorter”. He added that the shorter distance between the terminal building and flight boarding point will also make the process of boarding quicker and less cumbersome.
Several VIPs prefer to travel in private jets and all their aircraft movements take place from Terminal 1, which has been operating beyond its capacity and is currently undergoing expansion, the airport official cited above said.
Kanika Tekriwal, CEO and founder, JetSetGo Aviation, one of the firms that offers private jet services at Delhi airport, said the charges for hiring a private jet vary, depending upon size of aircraft and length of trip. “They start at Rs 80,000 per hour for an eight seater turbo-prop and go all the way to Rs 5-6 lakh per hour for a 16-seater jet. Added to which there are airport and other landing charges,” she said.
Kapil Kaul, CEO and director of CAPA South Asia, an aviation advisory and research firm, said he expects an international standard general aviation terminal in Delhi to help increase corporate jet penetration in India.
“However, given the challenging economic conditions post-Covid, we may see a serious short-term impact till the recovery is visible. The demand for corporate jets since last few years has remained almost stagnant,” Kaul said.
During the lockdown, the number of daily non-scheduled flights remained between 8-10 flights a day -- mostly medical emergencies; at present, it is around 20-30 movements a day, and of these at least 40% are for medical emergencies, a third official at the airport said.
The general aviation terminal has not been without its share of legal tangles.
This February, Mark Martin, chief executive officer of Dubai-based aviation firm Martin Consulting, which was executing the general aviation terminal project until February 2019, when the contract was terminated, filed a police complaint for criminal as well as civil proceedings against officials of DIAL and Bird ExecuJet alleging “theft and unlawful use of Martin Consulting’s work and intellectual property”.
Martin Consulting had been engaged by Bird ExecuJet in 2017 to develop the design and prepare a study on the general aviation project, Martin said. The following year, after the location of the project changed, it was appointed to carry out demolition of existing structures on the site and design and construct the facility, he said.
Bird ExecuJet disputed the version, saying Martin Consulting had been engaged by it as a project management consultant to prepare a study on the general aviation project. And its contract was terminated because it was unable to deliver on its contractual obligations, the company said.
Deputy commissioner of police (Delhi airport) Rajeev Ranjan said a probe was started on the complaint by Martin, but had to be stopped because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “It is again being taken up,” Ranjan said.
When contacted, Martin said “changes made by GMR Group-led DIAL on the original drawings and design by Martin Consulting are in violation of copyright laws. Changes made by them on the original drawings and design by Martin Consulting also emerge as a safety violation keeping landside access to the terminal in view. We have also notified the ministry of civil aviation on the matter along with the Airports Authority of India.”
In response, Bird ExecuJet said it had replied to a legal notice sent by Martin, clearly stating that under the terms of the contract with Martin Consulting, all deliverables were work for hire and all intellectual property rights for the work belonged to Bird ExecuJet.
“Bird ExecuJet is the rightful owner of all such work under the terms of the contract and copyright laws. Under the contract, payment was to be made to Mark Martin upon production of documents. Failure to substantiate the expenses with documentary proof has led to non-payment of the dues he claims from us,” said the company in a statement.
Martin has filed two cases. While in the first case, the National Company Law Tribunal has not issued any notice to BirdExecuJet, in the second case, a local court has granted no stay in favour of Martin Consulting, Bird ExecuJet said.
Police have also not registered any first information report against Bird ExecuJet.
In its response to queries from HT, a DIAL spokesperson said: “DIAL has no contractual relationship with Martin Consulting.”