Aviation minister digs out Noida airport plan

International Airport In Greater Noida

The ambitious plan of the minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma to build a second airport in Delhi at Greater Noida may hit many air pockets on its flight path but could prove beneficial for passengers and airlines by spurring competition.
That is, if the project for development of the greenfield airport at Greater Noida is bagged by some other organisation other than GMR Group’s Delhi International Airport Private Ltd (DIAL), which currently operates the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
However, that could be a remote possibility as the operation management and development agreement (OMDA) between GMR and Airports Authority of India (AAI) states that the former would have the first right of refusal in case an airport was built within 150 kilometre of the existing one.
The plan was first mooted by Uttar Pradesh government in 2001.
Also, Sharma, a Lok Sabha member from Gautam Budh Nagar constituency of Noida, is trying to build a case for the second by stating that the current airport has “already been stressed and, therefore, an international airport at Greater Noida is the need of the hour.”
Given that Terminal 3 (T3) at the IGIA is operating below its current capacity of 40 million passengers per annum, he may find it difficult to convince authorities for one more airport. The total capacity at the existing airport is around 50 million passengers per year. Besides, there is also a Master Plan drawn by DIAL to scale up the capacity to 100 million by 2025. For this, it has adequate real estate available to expand on. It owns around 5,000 acre land and has already begun monetising it by leasing it for development of hotels.
“There is no question of stress, the existing airport can easily be expanded on the real estate which can hold not just T4 but T5 and T6 too,” said a source from the airport sector.
Apart from this, the IGIA has three runways that can handle air traffic movements (ATMs) of 20-25 aircraft per hour. Interestingly, London’s Heathrow Airport’s single runway can handle 60 ATMs per hour.
Airlines, however, were all for another airport in the city as it would promote competition, which would be beneficial for them and passengers with airport, landing and parking charges coming down.
“Why not? (have two airports in the city). The current capacity at IGIA will be exhausted in another five years – the time it will take for the government to come with new airport. We (airlines) are already feeling the pressure (of capacity constraint) at T1 (D) (used by low-cost airlines), which is woefully choked during peak hours,” said an airline industry official.
He said competition in the airport sector would be good as it would result in competitive airport charges. Today, airports developed on private public partnership (PPP) mode levy Airport Development Fee (ADF) and User Development Fee (UDF) of Rs 750 per passenger. Their landing rates at Rs 50,000 are also among the highest in the world.

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