After years of dilly-dallying, it has been finally settled that Delhi-NCR would have a second airport in Greater Noida by 2023 and the work for it would begin well in advance, civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju told FE.
Raju said that a new airport in Delhi-NCR would be required as the current one — Delhi International Airport (DIAL), run by the GMR Group — would reach a saturation point by then. He said that the government would not like to repeat the Mumbai experience where work on the second airport began late, and therefore would begin the exercise well in advance.
“We are in 2017 and looking at the trend or footfalls this airport in Delhi would be reaching a saturation point in 2023. So that gives us six years in hand and according to the studies conducted by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the current developers are protected till the footfalls reach a saturation point in the existing airport and the agreements are also done accordingly. So we feel that in another six years, that is by 2023, the current airport in Delhi would reach a saturation point, hence Delhi and its surroundings will need another airport,” Raju said.
On the question of GMR’s objection that any new airport in the radius of 150 km would hamper its growth, Raju said, “GMR’s right is until the footfalls in the existing airport reaches the saturation point, whereas the ministry of civil aviation has to think beyond that about the larger canvas. Once your airport reaches a saturation, then there should be no problem. If any airport comes up before before the existing one reaches the saturation point, then it will be a loss for GMR. The country needs to have another airport by 2023.”
The Delhi airport’s current handling is of around 50 million passengers annually and it has enough space to handle traffic of up to 100 million.
The airport policy has a clause which says that if the government were to allow construction of a greenfield airport within the radius of 150 km, either the consent of the existing airport operator has to be taken, or it has to be given the right of first refusal to be its builder.
There has been an old proposal by the UP government to build an international airport in Greater Noida, a suburb near Delhi, which could not take off because of this restraining clause. With a BJP government taking charge in UP now, the pressure for an airport at Greater Noida has been revived.
In Mumbai, the contract for making the second airport at Navi Mumbai has been awarded to GVK’s Mumbai International Airport, which has built and runs the current one. Though GVK had an RoFR, it did not need to exercise it as it emerged the highest bidder for building the new one.
The current airport in Mumbai can at most handle around 50 million passengers annually and is near its optimum limit.