Terminal for private jets at IGI airport ready, security nod awaited
The facility is designed to ensure 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.Updated: Aug 28, 2020, 22:03 IST
India’s first general aviation terminal for private jets — set to open at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport last month — has been ready for use for at least a month, but is still waiting for security approvals before it can become operational, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The facility is designed to ensure 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.
Two senior officers from the ministry of civil aviation, who asked not to be named, confirmed that the facility was ready for use in terms of infrastructure and other facilities, but was awaiting some security clearances from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).
A Delhi airport official said the terminal — it was tentatively due to be inaugurated on July 24 — is complete, but will be operationalised “as and when the government gives its approval”.
Usha Padhee, joint secretary in the ministry of civil aviation, has additional charge as director-general, BCAS, after the previous incumbent, IPS officer Rakesh Asthana, was posted as director-general of the Border Security Force (BSF) on August 17. Padhee could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. Calls, text messages, and an e-mail sent to her seeking a response remained unanswered.
A BCAS official, who did not wish to be named, said any development at any airport in India requires security approval from the BCAS. The official, however, did not comment on the approvals pending regarding the new general aviation terminal.
The terminal was built at a cost of Rs150 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.
It has been designed to have parking space for a maximum 65 jets of all sizes, and has the capacity to handle a maximum of 150 business jet movements a day, the third official cited above said.
Before the national lockdown was imposed in March, around 1,300 scheduled flights operated from Delhi airport every day, apart from an additional 40-50 small non-scheduled chartered or private planes.
“Though 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 had said in a statement in response to queries from Hindustan Times about the new terminal last month.
Private aircraft will still have to compete for take-off and landing slots with commercial flights, and another official from Delhi airport said that the new terminal will cut time . “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 said, adding 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 and business travellers prefer to use private jets, and all their aircraft movements currently take place from Terminal 1, which was operating beyond capacity and undergoing expansion before the lockdown.
Kanika Tekriwal, CEO & founder, JetSetGo Aviation, a private charter operater, said they are extremely excited and eagerly looking forward for the inauguration of aviation terminal for private jets at Delhi Airport. “The terminal will bring ease to flying operations at large,” said Tekriwal.
Captain Archit Gupta, CEO, Atom Aviation, a Delhi-based private jets service provider, said they are also very excited about new general aviation terminal coming up in Delhi.
Aviation expert Kapil Kaul said the pending approvals may be some last mile issues related to regulatory clearances. The new general aviation terminal, otherwise, is ready for commercial operations, he added.