Friday, July 21, 2023

Lounges: Encalm plans to expand beyond GMR airports in India & abroad too

New Delhi: Encalm Hospitality, which currently operates lounges only at GMR Group-run airports in Delhi, Hyderabad and Goa Mopa, plans to expand its wings abroad and in India. It has a partnership with Turkish company TAV Operation Services which operates 80 lounges in 19 countries. The GMR Group had in 2019 built a new terminal at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Turkey and had exited the JV project about a decade back.

Since most airports seek a minimum of three years’ experience from prospective lounge operators, Encalm — which began operating in February 2022 — will use the tie-up with TAV to bid for lounges at more airports abroad and in India (non GMR) including the upcoming one at Greater Noida that is being built by Flughafen Zurich.

“Encalm Hospitality is backed by overseas funds. We currently have six lounges at Delhi Airport. Four of them are at T3 — two on international and one on domestic departure side and one at arrival for transit passengers. We have two lounges at Mopa, one for commercially important people (CIP) and one at domestic departure. We will build one on international side too at Mopa,” Encalm CEO Vikas Sharma said. The new facility built on Delhi Airport T3 international side that became operational earlier this month is India’s biggest airport lounge.

The company has major plans for Hyderabad airport. “We have one lounge each on domestic and international departure there. We will build a huge 17,000 square feet lounge there. The international side will get a much bigger lounge. We are building a 58-room hotel on transit side at Hyderabad,” he said.

A number of credit card holders are entitled to use airport lounges, apart from business and first class passengers. Long queues to enter lounges are a common sight at peak flight departure times. Airline officials say eligible credit card holders often outnumber premium class passengers in these queues. Delhi T3 international side was a major pain point till recently and now the new lounge is expected to improve things.

21/07/2023 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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