Hyderabad's new generation airport ready by year-end

Thursday, 23 August 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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Hyderabad: Hyderabad's new international airport, which incorporates the best of facilities in Oslo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore airports and promises to take Indian airports to a new era, will be ready by year-end and become operational in March 2008.

The 24.78 billion ($601 million) Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, which hopes to spur growth of this booming tech hub, is coming up in Shamshabad, about 25 km from the city on the Hyderabad-Bangalore national highway.

Flight trials are likely to begin in January and the first commercial flight is scheduled to take off in March, a month before the opening of the new international airport in Bangalore, its competitor.

"About 78 percent of the work has already been completed. All the civil work will be completed by year-end," said T. Srinagesh, chief operating officer of promoters GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL).

Hundreds of workers are working round the clock to give final shape to the futuristic airport, which is expected to make Hyderabad a transit hub between Europe and Southeast Asia.

GHIAL is a joint venture of GMR Group (63 percent), Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (11 percent), Airports Authority of India (AAI - 13 percent) and the Andhra Pradesh government (13 percent).

The initial phase of the airport will be capable of handling 12 million passengers per annum (mppa) as against 5.95 mppa handled by existing airport and more than 100,000 tonnes of cargo per annum against 45,000 tonnes handled by existing facility. The ultimate capacity of the new airport is over 40 mppa and one million tonnes of cargo per annum.

The success of this project will be crucial for many other airports planned in public-private partnership.

The 4,260-metre-long runway, India's longest for civil aviation, which is A380 aircraft compatible, is already complete, as is the equally long parallel taxiway that can also be used for emergency take-offs.

Work on a seven-storeyed passenger terminal building being built by the China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) and spread over 100,000 square metres is nearing completion.

The 42 parking bays, cargo building, apron and fuel farm are also on schedule.

The 70-metre-tall Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower has been completed and Airports Authority of India has started installing their equipment in it.

"By November or December, the ATC tower will be handed over to AAI," Srinagesh told IANS.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has already started inspecting the facilities to ensure that they are compatible with its international standards.

"Once ICAO endorses the facilities, it becomes easy for us to get certification from the Director General of Civil Aviation," the official said.

An agreement has already been entered into with Munich Airport to shift the entire operations from the existing airport in Begumpet in the heart of the city to the new airport.

"They are experts in transferring operations from one airport to the other. They have done this in Kuala Lumpur, Madrid and Athens," Srinagesh said.

The Shamshabad airport promises a new refreshing experience for air travellers, who often complain about poor facilities at India airports. "You will see a change in ambience." he said.

The airport will have 60 check-in-counters with Common User Terminal Equipment (CUTE) and 16 self check-in kiosks. The 2,500-sq m complex will also have 12 contact boarding bridges, 45 immigration counters and extensive retail and shopping outlets.

The other special features include fuel supply system on open access basis, an airport village and a business hotel of 308 rooms near the passenger terminal building.

GHIAL can use 1,000 acres out total 5,400 acres, for commercial developments. Future plans include a luxury hotel and convention centre, a railway station and shopping malls.
Source: IANS
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