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Getting Delhi to measure up

A Delhi Airport for the 21st century will have to start right from the car park. A modern airport like Munich has 20,000 parking spaces.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 23:33 IST
Nina Mehta

A Delhi Airport for the 21st century will have to start right from the car park. A modern airport like Munich has 20,000 parking spaces.

The Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) needs to be able to handle, conservatively, 40 million passengers per year in 20 years times. Around the same Hong Kong is currently handling every year currently.

The number of flights per hour need to go up from the current 25. Hong Kong and Heathrow handle about 52 flights every hour. Where will these planes land? There are 77 aircraft parking bays at IGIA. Heathrow sets the international standard with 264.

The number of counters as well as X-ray belts will have to be increase. Munich airport has 274 desks to handle 45 million passengers while an international hub like Heathrow has 531 desks to handle 67 million passengers.

Baggage handling will have to undergo a revolution. The best airports in the world time it within 20 minutes of the aircraft landing. Munich can handle 14,000 pieces of luggage per hour.

And let's not forget a good transport link between the international and domestic terminals a la the monorail at Changi.

Will all or any of this happen? After numerous delays, the government has formulated guidelines for private bidders who are expected to make Delhi airport world class. The modern airport is expected to be ready within three years from the date of selection. However, there's a problem.

Private bidders will have to share aeronautical revenues with AAI and depend mostly on non-aeronautical earnings like ground handling and retail activities including shops and hotels.

It is in the interest of the government to have higher non-aeronautical revenue than aeronautical ­ globally the ratio is 40:60 ensuring that tariffs levied on the airlines like landing and parking charges are kept low.

However, the government has decided to cap the non-aeronautical commercial development at Delhi airport at 5 per cent of the total land area (Mumbai gets 10 per cent). Plus, bidders will not be allowed to set up shopping malls, multiplexes or office complexes at the airport since it violates the Airports Authority Act.

First Published: Nov 16, 2005 19:37 IST