Hyderabad - New International Airport
Hyderabad's New Airport - Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (Shamshabad)
Hyderabad's (The capital of Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India ) new airport was inaugurated on 14.03.2008 . Christened as "Rajiv Gandhi International Airport" at Shamshabad and located about 25 kilometres from Hyderabad's Central Business district the airport was built exactly 3 years after the foundation stone was laid on 14, March, 2005 . The airport is the first public-private partnership in the Indian airport infrastructure sector between GMR Infrastructure (63 %), Malaysian Airports Holding Berhad (11 %) , Airports Authority of India (13 %) and Government of Andhra Pradesh (13 %) . It is built on a 5,495 acre site at a cost of Rs. 2,478 crore (U.S. 530 million ) with the state-of -the-art-facilities . The final cost of the project is estimated to cost U.S. $ 3 billion .
The airport has the longest taxiway in South Asia at 4,260 meters to accommodate code F aircrafts (including the world's largest A 380 ), over 100,000 sq.meter terminal to handle 12 million passengers a year with an ultimate capacity to handle 40 million passengers per annum, the tallest air traffic control (ATC) tower in India at 75 meters and 12 contact and 30 remote stands for 42 aircraft parking . The Greenfield airport, the first of its kind in the country incorporates the best facilities in Oslo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore . The non-polluting airport with ‘Leeds' certificate for energy efficiency and environmental design - rare for any airport (except the Boston airport in the U.S.) with glass encased terminal which promises natural light to the passengers is India's most modern, gleaming and hassle-free airport . The retail area in the airport will have a contemporary ambience akin to a modern duty free and paid shopping space . This is a unique and first of its kind model featuring a walk through concept . The modular design of the airport will allow incremental expansion of each area, without major rebuilding or operational disruption .
The new airport is not a mere addition to the country's airports . It is the country's first aerotropolis , a new urban hub (modified airport village ) that would house business parks, hotels, shopping arcade , hospitals , residential quarters and entertainment areas . It would be developed on the lines of the aerotropolis at Inchaeon, Seoul (South Korea), Dubai, Munich and Hong Kong International airports . An aerotropolis offers operational convenience for companies and organizations to maximize the benefits , while cutting down on expenditure significantly .
Apollo Hospitals is setting up a 17-bedded emergency medical centre . A 308 room business hotel is being developed . The French based Accor Hotels and Resorts of Singapore will operate the hotel as per international Novotel brand standards . The real estate developers have taken up housing projects catering to airport employees , techies and non-resident Indians .
THINGS TO UNFOLD
The new airport has many things to unfold - culture , travel , business and development . The Government of Andhra Pradesh has plans to start 9 more airports all over the state . Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, United Progressive Alliance , who inaugurated the airport stated that "Air travel is no longer elitist and the entry of private airlines has virtually opened up the skies . " . Praful Patel , Union Civil Aviation Minister, Govt. of India, present on the occasion said that the definition of airport has to be reframed as it is now an economic tool for the common mass .
Located strategically as a geographical centre of India, Hyderabad is likely to become a major domestic and international aviation hub. It is within a 2 hour flying time to all major cities in India and 4 hours from all major cities in the Middle East and South East Asia . "We not only have the potential to become one of the major hubs in India but also a major hub for traffic between East and West ", pointed out the Chief Operating Officer of GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) - the airport developers.
Currently there are 11 international airlines and 11 domestic airlines operating from Hyderabad flying to over 35 destinations . The airport handles 150 flights a day and the number is likely to reach 300-350 by the end of the current financial year . Moreover several other airlines are waiting to operate flights to and from Hyderabad . British Airways is to launch its first flight from Heathrow on 27th October, 2008 . Emirates and other airlines plan to increase frequency to and from Hyderabad to other cities . GHIAL , expects at least 30 per cent increase in frequencies to Gulf, a key region considering the large number of people from Andhra Pradesh employed there . The number of passengers is expected to go from 7 million to 8.4 million in the first year of operations . This would include 2.4 million international passengers .
Hyderabad city has become an important economic centre in India . The number of Information Technology (I.T.) companies with headquarters in India has earned it the reputation of India's second silicon valley . The city is also a major centre for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies . With the world class airport in hand the city is likely to grow further as a major business centre . After all, any businessman interested to invest in a city will look for good connectivity .
The airport is also expected to become a cargo hub in South-east Asia . A large world class cargo terminal for processing of cargo and mail and cold chain infrastructure at the airport would help the farmers of the state to export their produce and increase their income . It is estimated that 100,000 metric tons of cargo can be handled initially from the existing level of 40,000 metric tons to reach 1 million metric tons later . The world class infrastructure of cargo handling at the airport will boost the economic and industrial activity in the state . Anticipating a rapid growth in freighter market, Secunderabad based flyington freighters decided to expand their activity with the purchase of new aircrafts to exclusively handle cargo . DHL Express, the international courier company has announced that the new airport would be its cargo hub .
According to Professor John D. Kasarda, Director of the U.S. based Frank Kawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise who coined the word "aerotropolis" , airports would do what seaports, railways and highways did in the past, resulting in the phenomenal growth of business locations . Professor Kasarda's research on how airports affected growth in major cities revealed that spines and clusters of airport-linked business would form along airport transportation corridors in a radius of 25 kilometers . "There will be significant economic impact upto 90 kilometers", he observed .
SPURT IN EXPORTS OF SMALL UNITS
A recent study of Dun & Bradstreet, the world's leading source of global business information, knowledge and insight titled "Emerging SMEs : Hyderabad 2008" revealed that 35 per cent of small and medium companies from the engineering sector are exporting and their most preferred export market is Asia excluding Middle East . In the pharmaceutical segment around 54 percent of such companies are exporting and their export market is Asia excluding Middle East followed by the United States . 22 percent of the small companies producing allopathic medicines earned more than 50 percent of their sales from exports . With the proposals on the anvil to increase the cargo tonnage from the new airport , there would be a definite spurt in the growth of exports from small units .
INVESTMENTS AND DEVELOPMENT
The airport is expected to act as a magnet to stimulate new investment around the airport in the areas of information technology , information technology enabled services, biotechnology and semiconductors and give further impetus to the development of the city . Plans are afoot to set up India's first chip manufacturing facility in the vincinity of the new airport . This cluster , likely to come up with an investment of US $ 7 billion over the next decade shall house units manufacturing solar cells and solar energy systems with significant employment potential .
Hyderabad has emerged as India's leading centre for higher education and health care and the airport would help the region to consolidate and move ahead in these areas as well . The mega infrastructure projects like the world class Outer Ring Road , the Elevated Expressway and the proposed metro railway are expected to give greater impetus to the development of the city .
The Minstry of Civil Aviation , Govt. of India notified the commencement of operations at Shamshabad airport from 23rd March 2008 . The Ministry also confirmed that the existing Begumpet airport at Hyderabad would no longer be available for civil aviation operations . . Lufthansa flight LH753 from Frankfurt touched down at Shamshabad on 23rd, March, 2008, to become the first flight to commence its civil aviation operations from the new airport ., while the last flight to take off from the Begumpet airport was Thai airways International flight TG330 to Bangkok on 22nd March, 2008 .
Civil aviation operations at Begumpet airport were closed in pursuance of clause 5.5 of the concession agreement between the Government of India and CHIAL on December 20, 20045 , according to which there would be no airport in a 150 kilometre radius of shamshabad . Nevertheless, "Why can't Hyderabad have two airports ?" is the significant question posed by many . For an appropriate answer a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court . Many cities in the developed world - New York, Los Angeles, London and even in the developing world - Nairobi in Kenya have more than one airport . Growth in air travel , availability of functional infrastructure with reasonable residual life are some of the moot issues raised in the PIL in favour of two airports .
The new airport is not, fee from teething problems . There are organizational , mechanical and technical problems generally usual to new international airports . As of now road connectivity to the airport, is a major irritant . But a crucial 8-Lane Expressway connecting the new airport to the city , named after the late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao , under whose premiership Indian economy underwent a significant transformation and who hailed from the state is under completion . It would take a few months and until its completion there would be discomfort to the travelers but their patience would be well paid .
The new airport at Shamshabad is a model public-private partnership project that will set benchmark for future infrastructure development . It will promote the brand image of Hyderabad like Kuala Lumpur with its international airport . In facts airports add value to cities . They become world class cities with world class airports . Hyderabad , by no means is an exception . The airport is set to position Hyderabad as a prominent player in the global avaiation map contributing to the prosperity, development and economic well being of the region .