Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Indian Officials Turn Attention To Planned Navi Mumbai Airport

Aviation Daily Jul 07 , 2010 , p. 08
Neelam Mathews

The new Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, which was dedicated on July 3, has highlighted the lack of adequate airport facilities in Mumbai.

“Mumbai, India’s financial capital, needs a second airport. Its present one is saturated,” says Praful Patel, minister of civil aviation. A new Navi Mumbai airport, which was cleared for development in 2006, has not been given environmental clearance. News reports from India say local officials are meeting with environment ministry officials to speed the process.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the Indian aviation sector has the potential to absorb up to $120 billion in investments by 2020, while Patel says Delhi has now become the No. 1 airport in terms of passenger traffic and flights, overtaking Mumbai.

T3, built by a public/private partnership, can handle 34 million passengers a year and opens ahead of upgrades to 35 airports planned by the Airports Authority of India by next year.

But the new terminal still has its challenges; the terminal was completed in a record 37 months, and some airlines tell The DAILY they expect initial delays as congestion on access roads needs to be addressed. “Besides, Indians are not used to such large airports, and there are bound to be latecomers who miscalculated the time taken to reach the gates,” one said.

Budget carriers, such as IndiGo and SpiceJet, will continue to operate from the existing terminal, which is closer to town and provides better access and convenient connections to passengers. “We suspect turnaround time will be faster now,” an airline official adds.

T3 will start commercial operations on July 14. Senior officials have cautioned initial glitches can be expected. One main issue continues to be information technology.

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