Recent years have seen a growing need for the development and augmentation of air connectivity to both existing and newly developed regions and industrial zones. Two examples are the proposed Dholera international airport in Gujarat and Mopa airport in Goa. The latter has recently been awarded to GMR Airports Limited on a build-operate-transfer basis. While Dholera airport aims to cater to future traffic to the proposed Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR), Mopa airport has been proposed to cater to the growing tourist traffic to Goa.
Goa’s second airport, which received in-principle approval from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) in March 2000, was finally awarded to be developed on a public-private partnership basis in August 2016. The need for the airport was imminent, given the growing number of tourists visiting the union territory. Over the past five financial years (2011-12 to 2015-16), tourist traffic in Goa has grown at a rate of 11.3 per cent, which has had a multiplier impact on associated services like hospitality, food and beverages, retail, etc.
The number of domestic and international tourists visiting Goa grew at a compound annual growth rate of 17 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively, between 2010 and 2015, to reach around 5.5 million. Domestic travellers accounted for 90 per cent of the total number of tourists.
However, the growth in air traffic has not kept pace with the growth in the number of tourists, largely on account of airside constraints at the existing Dabolim airport, leading to the need for the Mopa airport project.
The airport is being implemented on a design-build-finance-operate-transfer (DBFOT) basis by the GMR Group, which won the contract, outbidding the Airports Authority of India (AAI), GVK Airport Developers Limited, Essel Infra Projects Limited (consortium) and Voluptas Developers Private Limited (consortium).
The airport is planned to be implemented in four phases at an estimated cost of Rs 31 billion. It will span an area of 2,164 acres, of which 1,321 acres will be utilised for runways and taxiways, 462 acres for terminals and aprons, 232 acres for commercial development and 149 acres for restricted uses like a car park, fuel farm, etc. The concession period will be 40 years, commencing from the date of financial closure, with a possible extension of 20 years through a bid process.
GMR’s responsibility will include aeronautical and non-aeronautical undertakings relating to airside and passenger terminal buildings. Other undertakings will include cityside development and the development of an aviation skill development centre at ITI Pernem. Meanwhile, the Goa government will be responsible for granting “vacant access” and right-of-way (RoW) for the total project area free of cost, while procuring all applicable permits related to environmental protection and conservation of the site. The central government will be responsible for services like security, customs, health, communication, navigation systems and air traffic management, meteorological data, immigration, and plant/animal quarantine.
Currently, progress is being made regarding the appointment of a probity auditor and independent engineer; grant of RoW; assessing water and electricity sources for the construction process; rehabilitation of project-affected families; and the transfer of environmental clearances and consent to establish from the state government to GMR. Further, the revised master plan is yet to be submitted and applicable environmental permits are yet to be granted by the relevant authorities.
Dholera International Airport
The project has been proposed to provide air connectivity to the planned DSIR and to cater to the spillover traffic from the already saturated Ahmedabad airport. The location of the airport has also been strategically selected, adjacent to the 422 square km DSIR, spanning over 1,426 hectares of land, and within a 150 km radius of all the major cities in Gujarat. The airport will be situated in the middle of the air route connecting Dubai and Singapore and is planned to be constructed in four phases at an estimated cost of Rs 17.12 billion.
In May 2014, AAI submitted its master plan and detailed project report (DPR), while the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) submitted its DPR in March 2015. On May 20, 2016, requests for qualification (RfQs) and requests for proposal (RfPs) were floated for the selection of a transaction adviser and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was finally appointed on September 14, 2016.
In terms of the latest developments, PwC recently submitted a comparison of the AAI and JICA DPRs on December 23, 2016. Going forward, the scope of work for the transaction advisor has been divided into two modules – one involving project structuring and developing the financial model and the other involving the bid management process.
Under Module I, the transaction advisor is required to recommend a suitable project model, its viability and transaction strategy; undertake risk analysis along with alternative development models; and improve the viability and bankability of the project through additional project components such as aviation zone and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) project facility with other non-aeronautical/commercial activities on government land available close to the airport. Under Module II, the transaction advisor will be responsible for the preparation of bid documents and the concession agreement for the project model selected in Module I, while also managing the bid process involving the selection of a developer and facilitating the signing of the concession agreement.
To bolster road connectivity to the airport, the Ahmedabad-Dholera Expressway project is being implemented by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The authority has already appointed SEC Consultants for the preparation of the DPR which is scheduled to be completed by September 2017.
With regard to rail connectivity, the Ahmedabad-Dholera mass rapid transit system (MRTS) has been planned for implementation, for which the DPR has already been approved and consent has been sent to the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation. Meanwhile, NHAI plans to acquire 100 metres RoW for the expressway, which includes the 30 metres RoW for the MRTS. The state government has also agreed to reimburse NHAI for the land acquisition cost for the 30 metres RoW. Further, JICA has included the MRTS project under the scope of its funding plan.
Dholera Airport Aviation Zone
The Dholera airport will be supported by an aviation industrial zone, for which the Gujarat government has identified 2,500 hectares of land. Further, the steering committee of the MoCA has given its in-principle approval for the development of the MRO and aviation zone.
The Dholera airport aviation zone will offer the opportunity of being developed as a defence manufacturing hub, being strategically located close to the Jamnagar, Bhuj, Naliya and Jodhpur airbases. It can also be developed as a defence aircraft/chopper MRO hub due to the availability of sufficient land for the development of two runways. Further, it could be developed as a cargo hub which could serve cargo movements in the DSIR region. Moreover, to boost defence and aerospace manufacturing in the state, the government recently announced the Aerospace and Defense Policy, 2016, which offers several incentives and tax sops with regard to land allotment, stamp duty, registration charges and electricity duty.
Going forward, the Dholera International Airport aims to tap industries including defence and MRO, heavy engineering, auto and auto ancillaries, general manufacturing, pharma and biotech (formulation), electronics industries, and agro and food processing industries.
Given the country’s overall aim to promote tourism and establish industrial hubs for manufacturing and trading, the demand for air travel is likely to increase substantially. While Mopa airport in Goa aims to support the saturated capacity of Dabolim airport catering to tourist traffic, Dholera airport has been planned for implementation to support the projected air traffic, likely to boom with the development of the DSIR. Both airports will be key additions for augmenting air traffic capacity in the country. w
Based on presentations by Dr Suresh Shanbhogue, Director of Civil Aviation, Goa and Amit Chavda, General Manager, Dholera International Airport, at a recent India Infrastructure conference