New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport is on schedule to open its third runway in mid 2008, as construction work picks up on a large new passenger terminal that is due to open in 2010.

The airport was privatised last year, after which the new long-term lease-holders unveiled a multi-billion-dollar expansion that will see the construction of new runways and terminals, eventually increasing annual handling capacity to 100 million passengers.

Construction work began earlier this year on the 4,430m (14,530ft)-long runway, which will be the airport’s third and which will help ease air traffic congestion.

Air traffic has been growing rapidly in India in recent years and this has put the capital Delhi’s airport under particularly intense pressure.

In the last fiscal year to 31 March the airport handled 20.4 million passengers, up from 16.1 million the previous year, and its owners expect it will be the busiest airport in India by 2011, overtaking Mumbai. This fiscal year Delhi’s airport is expected to handle 23.3 million passengers.

Executives of majority owner GMR said on a visit to the work site this week that construction of the new runway is on schedule and it is due to open as planned in mid 2008.

Work on a 480,000m2 passenger terminal, known as Terminal 3, is also well underway and it is to be ready in 2010, as is work on a new domestic terminal that will open next year.

A consortium led by Indian infrastructure group GMR owns 74% of the airport, with the remaining 26% held by state-owned Airports Authority of India. Other partners in the private consortium include GVL, Fraport, Malaysia Airports Holdings and investment fund IDF.

Delhi’s airport currently has two passenger terminals, Terminal 1 for domestic flights and Terminal 2 for international flights.

Construction work is underway on the new domestic terminal that is to be ready in mid-2008. It is designed to have an annual handling capacity of 10 million passengers.

The existing Terminal 2 is meanwhile being upgraded while the all-new, much larger, Terminal 3 will be an “integrated” facility handling international airlines as well as full-service domestic carriers.

After Terminal 3 opens the domestic Terminal 1 facility will be used exclusively by low-cost carriers, although they would later also move the new terminal complex, which will be expanded in phases.

The upgrade works will by 2010 lift to 37 million the number of passengers the airport can handle each year.

Terminal 3 will have 74 aerobridges, six of which will be Airbus A380-compatible, and 30 remote parking bays. It will also have around 150 check-in counters.

Later stages will see a fourth runway and more terminals being added in a “modular” manner, while the existing secondary runway will be realigned to make it parallel to the others.

By 2015 throughput is expected to reach more than 46 million passengers per year and by 2025 this is forecast to rise to around 80 million.

A new six-lane approach road is meanwhile being built to the airport, while there will be a dedicated rail line to and from the city centre.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news