Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cargo To Get Priority At New Greenfield Airport


Aviation Daily Apr 01 , 2010 , p. 12
Neelam Mathews

Rajasthan Aviation Infrastructure (RAI) will set up the first phase of construction of one of three greenfield airports that have received government approval in India.

The field, located 50 km from Jaipur, will cover 1,500 acres and have a 3,000-meter runway. It is expected to be completed by 2013.

The airport will be part of a 4,000-acre project on the Delhi-Jaipur highway in the western Indian state of Rajasthan and intends to tap into the air cargo market. The developers insist that the existing airport at Jaipur will not be cannibalized and that the new field will have a niche of its own.

The problem in developing cargo business in India is that new and private airports are mostly "five-star" facilities, raising the cost of air freight. "Cargo does not require five-star facilities," Yogesh Garg, CEO of RAI, told The DAILY. "We have a narrow mindset on infrastructure in India and don't plan ahead. Airports in India are in a monopolistic situation, where cargo operators have to pay through their nose. Our design will take the cargo perspective in view," says Garg.

The company has homed in on a parcel of land that currently is unused and that it wants eventually to develop into a global trans-shipment hub.

The airport project has institutional investors and Germany's Fraport as a technical partner. "We chose Fraport for their technical expertise and their experience in running the low-cost Hahn Airport in Germany," says Garg. Singapore Changi Airport was one of the contenders.

The business model of the company is to be operator-driven, leasing out land to cargo airlines instead of owning a stake in the companies, as is the present norm of private airports in Delhi and Hyderabad.

Garg says with air and ground space congestion in metropolitan areas and high taxes on aviation turbine fuel, Rajasthan's 4% tax will be an added attraction for airlines. He adds that by keeping operating costs low, he plans to offer night parking facilities for airlines based in Delhi, a 30-minute flight away.

The airport will also approach general aviation, given that aircraft parking slots are difficult to acquire in Delhi and Mumbai.

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