May 10, 2007

New Hyderabad airport to become operational next year

Construction of the Rs.24.78 billion Hyderabad international airport is in full swing and the first flight is expected to take off March next year. The project is coming up at Shamshabad, about 25 km from here.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) says it will complete civil construction by the end of this year. Trials and certification will take three months after which the airport will launch its commercial operations in March 2008.

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

When completed the airport will have a 4,260-metre long runway, India's longest for civil aviation and can handle 12 million passengers a year. The length of taxiway will be same as runway and it can also be used for emergency take-off.

The airport is built to handle the world's largest commercial aircraft A-380. The other special features include fuel supply system on open access basis, modular cargo terminal with an initial capacity to handle 100,000 metric tonnes per year, an airport village for shopping and a business hotel of 308 rooms.

A convention centre and other commercial activities are also planned on 1,000 acres out of 55,000 of the airport land.

T. Srinagesh, chief operating officer of GHIAL, said 67 percent of the work on passenger terminal building, air traffic control and air side and land side work were completed.

Two rapid exit ways have been provided to runway. Work is also on to build 42 parking bays, cargo building and apron.

The seven-storey passenger terminal building being built by China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Company Ltd at a cost of Rs.6.15 billion is spread over 100,000 square metres.

The building provides easy transit from domestic to international terminal and vice-versa. It will have 60 check-in-counters with common user terminal equipment and 16 self check-in kiosks. The building will also have 18 immigration counters and extensive retail and shopping outlets.

Srinagesh said the new airport would become an important aviation hub as Hyderabad was centrally located with two hours flying from all major cities in India and 3 to 5 hours from Southeast Asian countries.

Though the new international airport at Bangalore was also expected to become operational in April next year, Hyderabad has some distinct advantages. 'The central location and clear weather round the year are two major advantages,' he said.

Srinagesh said the airport would also have several aviation facilities like maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility by Lufthansa Technik.

He said British Airways had evinced interest in connecting to Hyderabad. 'We have had discussions with 15 to 20 international airlines. Middle East carries are also waiting to come. They will crystallise their plans once the new facility is ready,' he said.

He said with growing software and services as well as pharma and biotech industries, Hyderabad had become a major business hub with aviation sector registering a higher than average national growth.

During 2006-07, the passenger traffic at Hyderabad was 5.95 million including 1.20 million international, a growth of 43 percent. The air traffic movements also registered a growth of 34 percent over the previous year (2005-06).

Currently there are 19 airlines operating to over 32 destinations in India, Middle East and the Far East.


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