Sunday, November 21, 2021

Work begins on second major airport for India's National Capital Region

New Delhi: The vast urban sprawl in and around Delhi - known as the National Capital Region (NCR) - will soon have two major airports, expected to be the first megapolis in India to do so.

Located in the town of Jewar in Uttar Pradesh state, Noida International Airport (NIA) is scheduled to be launched in the last quarter of 2024. This is expected to relieve pressure on Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in Delhi, which is currently India's busiest.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has dented aviation growth, the NCR region, with a population of around 50 million and its strong long-term demand for more flights, has a pressing need for a second major airport.

IGIA is expected to reach saturation point by 2030 with around 110 million passengers annually. The region currently has a second but smaller airport in Ghaziabad that handles a few regional flights.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for the high-profile NIA project on Thursday (Nov 25). The ceremony is part of a publicity blitz featuring several infrastructure projects ahead of elections early next year in India's most populous state, where Mr Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party hopes to retain power.

Spread over 1,334ha, the airport in Jewar is being developed by Yamuna International Airport Private Limited (YIAPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich Airport International. The firm plans to open a terminal catering to 12 million passengers in the airport's first phase of development by the end of 2024.

An additional terminal will see the airport cater to around 70 million passengers annually by the end of the 40-year concession agreement that Zurich Airport International signed with the Uttar Pradesh government in October last year.

During this period, the number of aircraft movements on NIA's two runways is expected to grow from 96,400 to 489,700 per year.

Mr Daniel Bircher, YIAPL's chairman and managing director, told The Straits Times the catchment area of the NCR region is large enough for two major airports, with estimates indicating that it could account for as many as 200 million passengers by the end of the 40-year concession period.

"Delhi NCR being, I would say, one of the largest metropolitan areas on the whole planet, definitely needs additional airport capacity," he said, giving examples of other metropolises, such as London, Tokyo and Sao Paulo, that have more than one airport each.

21/11/21 Debarshi Dasgupta/Straits Times

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