Zurich International AG CEO Daniel Bircher (second from right) with NIAL officials.(HT Photos/SOURCED)
Zurich International AG CEO Daniel Bircher (second from right) with NIAL officials.(HT Photos/SOURCED)

Zurich International wins bid to build India’s biggest airport at Jewar

Spread over 5,000 hectares it will have 8 runways and cater to 70 million passengers a year by 2040-50. First phase to be ready by 2023.
By Vinod Rajput | Hindustan Times, Greater Noida
PUBLISHED ON NOV 30, 2019 05:00 AM IST

Zurich Airport International AG, the owner of Switzerland’s biggest airport, on Friday emerged as the top bidder to design, build and develop a new airport in Jewar along the 165-kilometer Yamuna expressway, on the outskirts of New Delhi in Uttar Pradesh, trumping three other companies in the race and portending rapid growth in the region.

Zurich Airport offered the highest revenue share per passenger to the Uttar Pradesh government at Rs 400.97, compared with Adani Enterprise Limited’s Rs 360, Delhi International Airport Limited’s Rs 351 and Anchorage Infrastructure Investment Holdings Limited’s Rs 205, Noida International Airport Limited (NIAL) said.

The airport will be the second international airport in the National Capital Region centred on Delhi after Indira Gandhi International Airport.

To be spread over 5,000 hectares, once completed, it will be the biggest airport in India with eight runways and will cater to 70 million passengers a year by 2040-50. The first phase will be completed in 2023.

Zurich Airport has been selected “as it offered the best price,” said Arun Vir Singh,chief executive officer of NIAL.

“Now the project would go to the project monitoring and implementation committee (PMIC), which will meet on December 2 for required paperwork, and subsequently PMIC will recommend the same to the UP cabinet for further formalities.”

“It is a historic day as it will boost growth in this region,” Singh said, adding that the Swiss company will start work at the site following completion of formalities after three months.

The four bidders had applied in response to a global tender floated for the proposed airport on May 30. The project is to be built on public-private partnership model under which Zurich Airport will design, build, finance, operate and transfer the project to the government after 40 years.

Zurich Airport also developed Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International airport in partnership with other companies. Initially, it owned a 17% percent stake in the airport when it started in 2005, but it sold a 12% stake to GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd in 2009 and the remaining 5%t to Fairfax India Holdings Corporation in 2017. It has developed eight airports in Latin America and the one in Zurich.

“We first time came to India in 2005 to build Bengaluru airport. We developed the Bengaluru airport project in association with other companies. This airport project at Jewar will be our first independent project. We are quite confident that this project will become successfully functional as per the deadline. We are happy to work in Uttar Pradesh as this region has huge potential to explore. This region has infrastructure, traffic and a big catchment area,” said Daniel Bircher, CEO of Zurich Airport.

The project, meant to boost growth in the state, especially in western Uttar Pradesh, has been stuck for years in bureaucratic red tape. It received a fillip after the Bharatiya Janata Party under chief minister Yogi Adityanath formed NIAL on September 25, 2018, and holds the promise of ushering in rapid growth in the Greater Noida region where real estate has been in the doldrums in recent year because of a property market downturn.

In 2001, then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Rajnath Singh had proposed to build a greenfield Taj international airport and aviation hub (TIAH) in Jewar with the aim of boosting the local economy and create jobs by setting up industries near the aviation hub.

It was nine years later that then UP chief minister Mayawati took up the project and got site clearances and required approvals from the ministry of defence. In 2012, the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre said an airport cannot come up within 150km of Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

In 2013, then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav shifted the project to Agra, 200km from IGI airport. In 2016, both the state and Central governments pledged support to the
project and put it back on the fast-track.

“The new airport will not only increase housing demand but also lead to an uptick in commercial developments like office spaces and retail. With the new airport coming in, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway markets will attract more end-users and see steady, genuine capital appreciation rather than mere speculation,” said Santhosh Kumar, vice chairman of ANAROCK Property Consultants.

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