Paving the Runway: AAI’s initiatives and plans

AAI’s initiatives and plans

At present, the top priority of the civil aviation sector in general, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in particular, is to transform the airport infrastructure in the country, make it more customer friendly and bring it at par with the best managed airports in the world. The demand for air travel has be­en rising in Tier II and Tier III cities over the past few years. Further, domestic demand se­ems to be recovering rapidly from the pandemic shock, although international demand will take more time to recover. To meet the increa­sed demand, AAI has embarked upon a capex plan of Rs 250 billion over the next four years for development, modernisation and upgradation of AAI airports in the country.

Recent initiatives

AAI recently signed an operations and maintenance (O&M) agreement for the operationalisation of five airports owned by the Uttar Pradesh government for a period of 30 years. The­se are the Aligarh, Azamgarh, Chitrakoot, Muir­pur and Shravasti airports. According to the agreement, the state government will co­m­plete their construction, make them rea­dy for commercial operations, and then hand them over to AAI for O&M.

In line with the government’s Make in In­dia initiative, AAI is collaborating with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for the indigenous development of systems, which were hitherto being imported, for air traffic management and surface movement of aircraft at airports in the country. Under this agreement, BEL and AAI will jointly develop a civil air traffic mana­gement system with an advanced surface mo­vement guidance and control system, as well as a complex ground surveillance system to manage air traffic at airports and ensure the safe operation of flights from take-off to landing in the Indian civil airspace.

AAI has already taken the initiative to construct green terminal buildings with integrated habitat assessment (GRIHA) 4-star ratings, whi­ch entail using various green options for ma­te­rials, procedures and equipment. AAI’s Ja­mmu airport became the first airport in India to re­ce­ive a 4-star rating from GRIHA. The Tiru­pati and Chandigarh airports have also received GRIHA 4-star ratings.

Key project developments

AAI has undertaken construction work for a new integrated terminal building at Port Blair airport at an estimated cost of around Rs 7.08 billion. With a total built-up area of 40,837 sq­uare metres, the new terminal building will be capable of handling 1,200 passengers during peak hours. The project is planned to be completed by October 2022.

Further, AAI has undertaken expansion of Trichy airport, including construction of a new integrated passenger terminal building, a new apron and an air traffic control (ATC) to­w­er; and upgradation of airside facilities to cater to the growing passenger traffic and reduce congestion during peak hours at the airport. The terminal building, which is being constru­c­ted at a cost of Rs 9.51 billion, has been desi­gned to process 2,900 passengers during pe­ak ho­urs. Equipped with 48 check-in counters and 10 boarding bridges, the terminal will be an energy efficient building with sustainable features. The project is expected to be completed by April 2023.

As part of AAI’s plan, in response to inc­reasing air traffic, Jabalpur airport will get a new terminal building, which will enhance its capacity. The upgradation work to be carried out at the airport, at an estimated cost of Rs 4.12 billion, also includes extension of runway, and construction of a 28 metre high ATC tower and technical block. The new terminal building is likely to be commissioned by March 2023.

In an effort to reduce congestion during peak hours at Pune airport, AAI has undertaken construction of a new terminal building at a cost of Rs 4.75 billion. The new terminal, inte­g­rated with the existing terminal, will have a built-up area of about 69,677 sqm, with a passenger handling capacity of 16 million passengers per annum. The new building is likely to be completed by August 2023.

AAI is also extensively working towards holistic development of Surat airport at a project cost of Rs 3.53 billion. The project includes extension of the existing terminal building from 8,474 sqm to 25,520 sqm, expansion of the apron from 5 to 18 parking bays, and cons­truction of a parallel taxi track.  As of June 2022, more than 58 per cent of the work for ex­tension of the terminal building has been completed, and the building will be ready by December 2022.

Future plans

AAI’s key focus areas are the development of cargo terminals and the provision of maintenance, repair and overhaul services. It plans to achieve a cargo handling capacity of about 10 million tonnes by 2026-27.

Going forward, AAI plans to add a solar energy capacity of 47 MWp, capable of generating 65 MUs by 2024. Further, AAI is planning to increase the renewable energy share from the present 26 per cent (98 MUs) to 82 per cent (308 MUs) by making 96 of its airports self-reliant through renewable energy by 2024. Further, the possibility for making the remaining AAI airports self-reliant in energy is being explored, with the goal of making AAI 100 per cent self-reliant in energy by 2024.