New Delhi: Get ready for a whole new experience while flying in and out of Delhi. The new integrated domestic-cum-international terminal (T3) of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Saturday.
The swanky hi-tech $2.8 billion terminal - flights will shift to it in a phased manner from July 14 - will firmly put the city in the elite category of megacities with world class airports. The numbers are staggering, consider this: 168 check-in counters, 49 immigration desks, 50 emmigration desks, 78 aerobridges, 97 automatic travelators and latest Cat III runway landing systems, all designed to provide world-class experience to air travellers.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Dr Singh said it was a very special occasion for India.
“We are all very happy and indeed very proud of the completion of one of the world’s largest airport terminals in a record time of 37 months,” the PM said.
“This terminal establishes new global benchmarks for India. It also shows our resolve to bridge infrastructure gap in the country,” he added.
Sonia Gandhi meanwhile said she was “delighted to be here again today at the inauguration of the terminal.” The foundation of the new facility was laid by the Congress chief three years ago.
“This is a most impressive structure, it is evident global standards of excellence have been achieved here,” she said at the launch function.
T3, in one stroke, has put Delhi high on the global aviation map as it will more than double the airport`s current capacity and handle nearly 35 million passengers a year - posing a serious challenge to Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai as a regional transport hub.
Apart from the aerobridges - designed to handle 600 passengers an hour - which are passageways that connect the boarding area directly to the aircraft, Terminal 3 will also have 63 elevators and 35 escalators, besides a common check-in concourse with five level in-line baggage system for faster processing .
What makes flying out of Delhi even more exciting is that the terminal is ‘Airbus A-380 aircraft ready’.
The current international terminal T2 has only 10 aerobridges, one escalator and no automatic walkway.
"It is notable that T3 will have the most number of aerobridges in the world at a single terminal of this size," officials said, adding: "Only the Changi airport at Singapore comes close with 64 aerobridges."
T3 will be serviced by dedicated Metro line ‘Airport Express’ from Connaught Place, on the lines of the famous Heathrow Express in London. There will also be a multi-level parking for more than 4,300 cars and a 60-room transit hotel for passengers.
International from July 14, Domestic starting July 30
Airport operator, Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL) has decided to first shift all international arrivals and departures from the existing terminal (T2) — an Asiad Games era facility — to T3 between noon and 6pm on July 14. The time has been chosen specifically because international flight traffic is least during these six hours.
Domestic passengers will have to wait for a little longer than their international counterparts for using T3. DIAL plans to shift Indian Airlines, Jet, JetLite, Jet Konnect, Kingfisher and Kingfisher Red flights from their current terminal (1D) between 11pm on July 30 and 3am on July 31.
This slot, once again, is the leanest domestic flight traffic hour. Simultaneously, the other change to be effected will be the shifting of GoAir from terminal 1A to 1D. IndiGo, Spice-Jet and Paramount will continue to operate from 1D (departure) and 1C (arrival).
The airport has been built by Delhi International Airport (DIAL) - a joint venture of India`s GMR Infrastructure, German airport operator Fraport and the state-run Airports Authority of India.