Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Fragmented terminal model poses a challenge to airlines, may impair India’s emergence as a hub

On Wednesday, October 20, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport was to restart operations at its Terminal 1 (T1). In July, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport restarted operations at T2 as traffic started returning in the aftermath of the two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. On October 31, 2021, American Airlines will launch flights to New Delhi in a code-share agreement with IndiGo.

Yet, Indian airport infrastructure has one peculiar problem that will be act as an inhibitor to India’s emergence as an aviation hub — fragmented operations across terminals for domestic and international flights.

For years, India only had two major airline gateways — Mumbai and Delhi. At both, international and domestic flight operations were separated across terminals. When Delhi commissioned T3 and Mumbai made T2 operational, it was the first time that full service carriers (FSCs) operated at a single terminal. Low cost carriers (LCCs) had not started flying on International routes in 2010 when T3 was inaugurated at Delhi.

Slowly, LCCs played catch-up and started flying on overseas routes. With initial efforts to offer international services from T1 stymied by security concerns and other issues, IndiGo and SpiceJet started operating on international routes from T3 at Delhi and T2 at Mumbai.

When Bengaluru airport started operations, the integrated terminal model was put to test in the true sense. The swing gates and a design that enabled use of the same terminal for international and domestic flights, based on the time of the day and need, helped. The airport quickly ran out of space as air traffic grew exponentially. Bengaluru is set to get a new terminal that will be dedicated to international flights in a throwback to the old airport design in India.

The design was pro-FSC until April 2019 when Jet Airways shut down and its slots were distributed among other carriers. LCCs then became even more powerful in the Indian skies and occupied space at terminals that was hitherto earmarked for FSCs.

Every country has its own rules and in India, on arrival, passengers complete immigration and customs formalities at the first point of entry (except for those arriving by certain flights of Air India). Passengers have to then work their way towards the check-in for the next flight! Delhi, the largest airport in the country, has three terminals with all international arrivals and departures being handled at T3, irrespective of the airline.

Terminal 2 handles flights from Go First (which does not have a code-share or interline agreement with any carrier) and select flights from IndiGo. Terminal 1 only handles flights of IndiGo and Go First.

20/10/21 Ameya Joshi/Moneycontrol

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment