The government has taken several measures to scale up the airport infrastructure in the country. The past two-three years have seen big-ticket greenfield projects making significant headway. However, the progress in the development of such airports has been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as complex administrative procedures and costly land acquisition.
The central government has granted in-principle approval for setting up 21 greenfield airports across the country. So far, six greenfield airports – at Shirdi in Maharashtra, Durgapur in West Bengal, Pakyong in Sikkim, Kannur in Kerala, Orvakal in Andhra Pradesh and Kalaburagi in Karnataka – have been operationalised.
While most of the greenfield airport projects are being implemented by the state and central governments, a few major projects are being developed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model. These major projects include the Navi Mumbai International Airport, Jewar International Airport and Mopa International Airport. Upcoming projects such as New Pune airport and New Chennai airport are also expected to be developed under the PPP model.
Key ongoing and upcoming greenfield airport projects
The foundation stone of the Noida International Airport at Jewar in Uttar Pradesh was laid on November 25, 2021. Spread across an area of 5,000 acres, the airport will be developed at an estimated cost of Rs 295.6 billion. The airport will have multimodal connectivity owing to its proximity to the existing Yamuna Expressway and the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and it will be linked with the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway. Phase I of the airport will have a capacity to handle 12 million passengers per year and is scheduled to be completed in three years. In each phase, the airport will be expanded and will eventually serve 70 million passengers by the end of Phase IV. This will, however, depend on passenger growth and traffic. The airport was due to be inaugurated in August 2021, but faced delays as several formalities including important meetings with various stakeholders were stalled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The airport is set to become functional by September 2024.
The commercial operation of the Navi Mumbai International Airport project is expected to start by the end of 2024. The City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra’s share of work at the airport is now almost complete. The concessionaire, Navi Mumbai International Airport Limited (NMIAL), started its share of the work in August 2021. Land acquisition of the project has been completed. Land development works including recoursing of the Ulwe river and shifting of extra high voltage transmission are complete remaining. Only 2.77 hectares of land remains to be handed over to the concessionaire.
According to reports, about 40 per cent of construction work under the first phase of the Mopa International Airport in North Goa has been completed. The construction of runways, taxiways, passenger terminal building, air traffic control towers, administration building and the compound wall, among others, is under way. Court clearances and the Covid-19 pandemic had led to delays in the implementation of the project. The first phase of the airport will be commissioned in August 2022.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has undertaken the construction of a greenfield airport at Hollongi, Arunachal Pradesh. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 6.5 billion and the tentative date for completion is August 2022. The project includes the construction of airport pavements, airside work, terminal building and cityside works. The new terminal building will have an area of 4,100 square metres with eight check-in counters, a rainwater harvesting system and a sustainable landscape.
The Rajasthan government has decided to allot 1,250 acres of land free of cost to AAI near the Shambhupura area in Kota district for the greenfield airport project. The procedure for the same has been initiated. In June 2021, the Karnataka cabinet approved the construction of a greenfield domestic passenger airport at Hassan at an estimated cost of Rs 1.94 billion. The project includes the construction of a runway, a passenger terminal, technical buildings, electrical substations, aviation equipment, among others. The government has acquired 536 acres of land for the airport project.
Greenfield airports should look for the much-needed certainty in terms of aero and non-aero cross-subsidisation, land utilisation for real estate activities, treatment of cargo and rate of return. Going forward, there will be more opportunities for setting up greenfield airports in Tier II and Tier III cities.