Lauded as one of the largest infrastructure projects in the country, the modernised Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has been developed by Delhi International Airport Private Limited (DIAL), a joint venture (JV) between GMR, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Fraport of Germany. In January 2006, the consortium was awarded the concession to operate, manage and develop the airport following an international competitive bidding process. The consortium finally signed the operations, management and development agreement (OMDA) with AAI on April 4, 2006. The initial term of the concession period is 30 years, extendable by another 30 years.
Today, IGIA is India’s busiest airport handling more than 21 per cent of the country’s passenger traffic. In fiscal year 2015-16, the airport handled 48.4 million passengers and 0.79 million tonnes (mt) of cargo while recording 34.41 million air traffic movements (ATMs). Between fiscal years 2007-08 and 2014-15, the airport recorded a healthy growth with passenger traffic, ATMs and cargo growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8 per cent, 5 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. Further, the airport has recently been ranked number one globally in the category of airports handling 25-40 million passengers.
Key challenges and strategies adopted
Delhi airport being one of India’s first greenfield airport projects, multiple challenges were faced by DIAL. These included interruptions in capacity enhancement operations, issues in maximising capacity while meeting committed service standards, encroachment issues in the airport vicinity, the absence of as-built drawings, the relocation of airline and statutory agencies, short deadlines, extensive stakeholder management, a lack of trained manpower and limitations in project financing as the investment requirement stood at Rs 125 billion, making it the largest single-location capital project in the country.
Aiming to tackle these challenges, DIAL adopted a fast-track approach, starting with the employment of a single contractor to undertake both design and project implementation, rather than employing two separate contractors for the respective tasks. It also adopted an open-book approach for project management that involved undertaking a comprehensive project risk management approach while running the process of design and construction in parallel. Using this approach, it began construction work when only 5 per cent of the drawings were ready, which enabled it to save almost 12 months. Further, the company adopted an innovative project financing approach that included financing sources like external commercial borrowings, refundable deposits and land lease deposits that made the project viable. Its unique approach enabled DIAL to commence operations of the new Terminal 3 in July 2010.
Besides the OMDA, DIAL spent over Rs 10 billion to meet stakeholder expectations and to facilitate smooth operations at IGIA. Some initiatives were the augmentation of the new domestic departure Terminal 1D, fog extension in front of Terminal 1B, recarpeting the existing runway 10/28, contributions to metro connectivity, removal of all encroachments, the construction of a new office building and facilities for all domestic cargo operators, etc.
DIAL also transformed the non-aero business at IGIA in four main phases – transitioning, stabilisation, product-centric improvements and experience-centric initiatives – which managed to increase retail revenue by almost 3.8 times between 2006-07 and 2014-15. Regarding airside improvements, the implementation of NATS Holdings, UK, recommendations helped IGIA attain higher operational efficiency with 78 ATMs recorded per hour, as against 35 at the time of taking over. Higher departure on-time performance (OTP) has also been achieved (80 per cent in 2015), leading to greater passenger satisfaction. Infrastructure additions have also improved fleet utilisation through savings in hovering/ holding times, improved OTP, etc.
The investment in technology has made the airport more friendly and efficient. Some of the technologies include fully integrated airport information systems, a high speed 10 GB network, 3,000 CCTV cameras, 2,000 access control systems integrated with CCTVs, a fully integrated baggage handling system, an airport operations and control centre, utility systems integrated with a building management system, etc.
DIAL along with its JV partners has also developed a cargo handling capacity of 1.5 mt. It is the only airport in the country to have nine parking bays with Code 3F facilities and to be IATA e-freight-compliant with a dedicated transhipment excellence centre on the airside.
The way forward
The company plans to continue the phase-wise expansion of IGIA with the construction of the new Terminal 4 (Phase 2) along with new aprons, taxiways, fire stations, landside developments, etc. By 2036, DIAL aims to reach a traffic capacity of over 100 million passengers with additional maintenance, repair and overhaul and catering facilities, ground support equipment, cargo facilities and a new runway. Meanwhile, the new air traffic control tower, designed for Zone-4 seismic conditions has already been constructed and handed over to AAI for operations. w
Based on a presentation by Pradeep Panicker, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer, Aero and Property Development, DIAL, at a recent India Infrastructure conference