Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, Delhi
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Performance, international rank
2015: Among best On-Time Performers
The Times of India Dec 21 2015
For long, the Indira Gandhi International Airport has been called a world-class facility . Now it has added another feather in its cap by being placed among the top 10 performers. Despite its soaring daily flight operations, the airport recorded one of the best On-Time Performance (OTP) parameters in the world for three months in a row.
With the approaching winter, the operator aims to maintain this consistency . To achieve this, the airport Collaborative Decision Making (CMD) has been augmented to improve Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management (ATFCM) by reducing delays, improving predictability of events and optimising the utilisation of resources.
OTP is recorded when a flight takes off from its originating airport on time and lands at the destination exactly at the scheduled time. According to DIAL, Delhi airport has been among the top 10 airports for best OTP for three consecutive months from July to September, 2015. Even in October the airport recorded one of its best OTPs with do mestic departures scoring 90% on-time performance, while arrivals were recorded at 80%.
At the same time, the international traffic too recorded 80% on-time departures and arrivals 74%. The overall OTP in the month of October remained 88% for departure and 78% for arrival.
A few of the common fac tors that affect on-time performance include late arrival, faults in airline operation, technical problems, connecting crew and apron traffic. This also leads to delay of incoming flights.
Airport sources, however, say that on-time performance is expected to witness a dip with the arrival of the foggy season.
“CDM is all about the airport and aircraft operators, ground handlers and the ATC working together more efficiently and transparently . One of the main outputs of CDM will be more accurate `Target Take Off Times' which can be used to improve air traffic movements even during foggy days. Even if arrival OTP is bad, the airport will be helping flights meet the departure OTP,“ said Marcel Hungerbuehler, chief operating officer of DIAL.
2016, In the global list of 15 busiest airports
Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport became the 12th busiest airport worldwide for the month of November 2016 as per the report released by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
This was the first time an Indian airport entered the big league of top 15 airports in the world. Delhi airport also recorded the highest growth rate of 19.1% in November 2016 globally , the report said.
IGI airport crossed the 50 million passenger mark during the same period in November. Last year, Delhi airport handled a record 55.64 million passengers -the highest ever in the country.
IGI airport also reached an average of 1,185 air traffic movements a day , which is another record for the country .
2017, amongst world's 20 busiest airports
Robust air traffic growth at the capital’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport has propelled it into the list of top 20 airports — in terms of passenger traffic — in 2017, displacing New York’s JFK Airport from the ranking.
The Indian aviation growth story does not end with Delhi. According to the Airports Council International (ACI), Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai were among the fastest growing airports in the world last year.
ACI — which is the trade association for the world’s airports — compiled the data for 2017 for 1,202 airports worldwide and India and China stand out for their growth.
“Growing rapidly in a relatively short period of time, India is poised to be one of the largest aviation markets in the world in the years to come…. stronger economic fundamentals has helped awaken the Bengal tiger (Kolkata) to become one of the fastest growing markets in the world. ACI’s World Airport Traffic Forecasts predicts that the country will represent the third largest aviation market, in terms of passenger throughput, after the US and China by 2020,” ACI said.
“Delhi, the country’s busiest airport for passenger traffic, grew by 14.1% every year, pushing it up from 22nd to the 16th busiest airport in the world. Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai also ranked among the fastest growing airports in the world. Year-over-year growth of 26.9%, 19.6%, 12.9% and 10.5% (in these cities) respectively was achieved in 2017,” ACI added.
India’s has been the world’s fastest growing domestic air travel market globally with a double-digit growth consecutively in last 42 months.
However, aviation infrastructure has not kept pace with the traffic growth. As a result, the country’s busiest airports — Delhi and Mumbai — are completely choked with hardly any new slots for airlines desperate to add flights to these cities.
2018: no.12 in passengers, no.2 in growth
Delhi Airport Growing Fastest Among World’s Top 20 Hubs
The capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) is now the world’s 12th busiest airport — moving up four places from the 16th spot in 2017 — by overtaking mega hubs like the Frankfurt, Dallas Forth Worth, Guangzhou and Istanbul Ataturk airports.
According to the preliminary world airport traffic rankings for 2018 released by Airports Council International (ACI), IGIA was the fastest growing among the top 20 airports. The airport saw 6.9 crore domestic and international flyers in 2018, 10.2% points more than the combined passengers of 2017. In terms of passenger growth, only Seoul’s Incheon International, at the 16th place in 2018 with 10% point growth, was close to Delhi.
The four airports just above Delhi — Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Shanghai Pudong and Hong Kong — handled just up to 46 lakh passengers more than IGIA. Had the Delhi airport’s expansion not been hugely delayed as they are, IGIA may have even made it to the top 10 last year itself. India being the world’s fastest growing aviation market and Delhi its busiest airport, IGIA is to grow strongly once the infra expansion takes place.
“India became the world’s third-largest aviation market in terms of passenger throughput, behind the US and China, in 2018. India’s move towards a more liberalised aviation market and the nation’s strengthening economic fundamentals have helped it become one of the fastest-growing markets with its traffic growing rapidly in a relatively short time,” according to a statement by ACI, the global representative of the world’s airports.
“With the cost of travel decreasing in many markets, and a burgeoning middle class growing in emerging markets, passenger traffic growth has
remained irrepressible. ACI’s global medium-term forecasts reveal that the growth in demand between 2018 and 2023 will grow by almost 30%,” said ACI World director general Angela Gittens said. “This means many national governments face the predicament of demand outstripping available airport infrastructure.”
India is likely to be one such country. IGIA has seen slow and delayed infra upgrade despite being one of the world’s fastest growing airports. The airport management had almost two years ago unveiled a plan to upgrade terminals 1 and 3 and build the fourth runway, but all are still some years from completion.
Given the huge volume of traffic and the need for passengers to transit between T1 and T2-3, the government had in 2017 told Parliament that Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd proposed to have a 5.5km-long automated people mover or air train between its terminals by 2020. But the work is yet to begin. However, IGIA still has tremendous scope for expansion. Most airports busier than IGIA have saturated in terms of capacity. For example, “after years of double digit percentage traffic growth”, Dubai Airport grew by 1% point in 2018.
Air traffic control (ATC)
The Times of India, Apr 05 2016
Anvit Srivastava Delhi's ATC is the busiest in country with 1,100 landings and take-offs daily. In peak time, it manages 75 flights an hour. What makes it tick and who are these men with nerves of steel
According to air traffic management officials, better technology in the ATC tower, on the ground infrastructure and in the automated systems helps deal with the drastic increase in the traffic in recent times. But the pressure on the human in the tow er is also higher now. ATC work demands attention every minute. Controllers say that each and every emergency call has to be dealt with equal urgency . “What is routine can suddenly change into something special,“ says one of the controllers. “It could be low holding fuel, low air pressure in a tyre or a medical emergency , but we are the first to know about a special situation on-board a flight and none of them can be dealt with casually .“ As soon as the pilot contacts ATC, the tower ropes in the fire services, and brings AOCC (Airport Operations Control Centre) and DIAL (Delhi International Airport Limited) into the loop.
Work can sometimes be affected by a sudden change in weather, ham pering the controllers' ability to manage the traffic with the same robustness as in better conditions. Apart from sandstorms, high wind velocity and thunder storms, what also up sets the routine are the restrictions caused by VVIP move ment or runway maintenance. “The bur den becomes heavier twofold, threefold, if any of the runways are shut during the peak hours even for five minutes,“ says a controller. “The pile up that this creates takes hours to be cleared. At such times, all of us focus together on clearing the backlog because flight can't backlog because flight can't be held up for too long.“
However, despite their intense work regime and restricted movements in the tower, controllers appreciate the team spirit and the closeness with which they function, especially at tense mo ments. They say that the entire team works like a close-knit family under the supervision of one head, often cracking jokes, pulling the legs of colleagues and sharing special experiences to lighten the work pressure.
The Times of India, Apr 05 2016
3 runways, 8 radars and a dozen pair of eyes
At the Indira Gandhi International airport, a brigade of air traffic controllers handles 1,100 landings and take-offs every day . In peak time, it manages up to 75 flights an hour. This works out to one flight operation each minute, making the Delhi Air Traffic Control (ATC) station the country's busiest.
“Our aim is to ensure safety of aircraft, maintain regular flow of flights and avoid incidents involving aircraft or passengers,“ says a senior Delhi ATC official. “We have stateof-the-art automation system provided by a USbased firm, which gives us the capacity to manage 75 flight movements per hour on the three runways and two terminals at IGI airport.“ Air traffic at Mumbai is comparably higher, says an official, but IGI is the only airport in the country that employs three runways simultaneously .
The controllers work in five shifts to keep the ATC operational 24x7. Each shift is headed by a Watch Supervisory Officer (WSO), who oversees the functioning of 55 controllers. Over all, Delhi ATC is headed by a general manager, Air Traffic Movement (ATM).
“A team of 11-12 officers sits in the tower managing the landings and take-offs at IGI.The Delhi ATC has jurisdiction over 250 nautical miles. This space is divided in four sectors that are manned by four teams with three members in each,“ explains an official.
“To prevent collisions, ATC enforces traffic separation rules that obligate aircraft to maintain a prescribed minimum unoccupied space around it at all times. Many aircraft also have collision-avoidance systems. These provide additional safety by warning pilots when other aircraft get too close.“
The Delhi ATC uses feeds from eight radars. At IGI airport, there is a long-range instrument called the Air Route Surveillance Radar (ARSR) with the capability of coving the entire 250 nautical miles under Delhi's purview, two short-range radars keeping vigil on 60 nautical miles of territory, and two surface movement radars that manage the ground sur veillance of the runways, apron area, taxiways and bays. Apart from these, the ATC gets feed from three other radars sta tioned at Varanasi, Udaipur and Bhopal for an integrated surveil lance of the entire air space under its jurisdic tion. “ARSR is 15 years old, while one of the short-range radars was only bought last year.
But we ensure regular maintenance of all of them,“ says an official.
Apart from radars, IGI's three runways are also capable of handling landings and take-offs from both ends. Of the six approaches to the runways, three are CAT III-enabled and allow flight operations even at visibility as low as 50 metres. Well-equipped and already at an advanced stage and prepared to handle the rising air traffic, one problem most ATCs face is staff shortage.
Delhi, however, given its status as the busiest in the country , has been spared this problem.
Elsewhere, the long and stress-filled working hours, the necessity of regularly keeping oneself updated with industry developments and low initial salaries keep the youth away from opting for an air traffic controller's job.Despite these challenges, however, controllers testify that the responsibility that comes with the job is rewarding in itself.
2016: AAIB report on near-miss between IndiGo 977, KLM 811
2016 IGI Case Report Says Staff Overworked
In a case of double jeopardy , the air traffic control (ATC) has been blamed for using a wrong call sign to tell an aircraft what to do for avoiding a mid-air collision with another plane that had got dangerously close to it.
This scary situation has been revealed by Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) in its preliminary report on a near-miss close to Delhi between IndiGo flight 977 and KLM 811 that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on November 2, 2016. The IndiGo Airbus A-320 had taken off from Delhi for Bengaluru.
Around midnight, “a predicted conflict warning (PCW) was generated by the automation system between KLM 811and IndiGo 977 when IndiGo 977 was passing (flying level) 328 (32,800 feet) with vertical speed of 1,300 feet per minute. Controller (ATC) ignored PCW for approximately 82 seconds,“ the AAIB report submitted to the aviation ministry says. At this time, the “required standard lateral and vertical separation which should be 10 nautical miles (nm) or 18.5km and 1,000 feet, was reduced to 3.6 nm (6.6 km) and 200 feet, respectively“ between the two planes that had hundreds of passengers on them.
Now steps needed to be taken immediately to first stop heading in each other's direction and then move away .And that is where the second -and bigger --scare unfolded. “The controller instructed IndiGo 977 to descend to flight level 340 (34,000 feet) but inadvertently used call sign as `Vistara 977'. (The wrong sign was used five times). IndiGo 977 continued to climb. Subsequently , the controller instructed KLM 811to climb to (flight level) 360 (36,000 feet),“ the report says.
When the Indigo crew “realised that the descend clearance was intended for (them) instead of Vistara 977“, it descended to (flying level) 349 (34,000 feet)“, it adds. The safe and required vertical and lateral distance was re-established when the Dutch aircraft was at 35,300 feet and climbing, and the IndiGo aircraft was at 34,100 feet and descending.
The report also talks about air traffic controllers being overworked. Airports Authority of India, the parent body of ATC, and senior ATC officials didn't respond to the queries.
2017-2018: one million metric tonnes
The IGI airport for the first time handled over ‘one million metric tonnes’ of cargo in a year between November 2017 and October 2018. It also handled the highest ever monthly cargo tonnage in October, the airport operator said.
Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) said this feat places the airport, which handles 29% of the country’s cargo, in the 28 position globally. It handled a monthly cargo of 1,00,091 MT in October, which was the highest ever in a month.
The increase in number has also been due to other initiatives undertaken recently, including dedicated trans-shipment facilities, expansion of cargo, development of airport cargo logistics centre (ACLC) and digitisation and technology advancement. “Significant investments have been made in upgradation and modernisation of air cargo handling facilities in the past 10 years,” a DIAL spokesperson said.
The airport is connected to 75 international and 67 domestic destinations and is served by 64 air carriers and 16 freighter airlines. Officials said a significant growth in civil aviation and air connectivity has also played its part.
“Delhi airport has been recognised as India’s air cargo gateway for its handling capacity, efficient processes and service standards. We look forward to working closely with our partners and stakeholders to sustain this growth,” said Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, chief executive officer, DIAL.
The airport was also recognised to be contributing 17.89% to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) according to National Council of Applied Economic Research.
2017: The Nordic Dino
Aircrafts at IGI airport may now soon be cleaned with robotic machines, saving time and increasing the frequency of flights, after airport operators DIAL and Air India SATS joined hands to bring in the technology from Sweden. Called the `Nordic Dino', the machine underwent a series of trial runs by AI SATS over the last couple of months. Officials said that now the technology is ready to be implemented at the airport.
Earlier, cleaning an aircraft like the A320 would take close to 8 hours, while cleaning a narrow body aircraft would take 5-6 hours of time and up to 18 cleaners.The new technology will require just one man to operate it and the cleaning time will reduce to 2 hours, officials said. Further, it will ensure that even if an aircraft arrives late at the terminal, the aircraft will be cleaned on time for its subsequent flight.
“Cleaning an aircraft like the A320 may take up to 10 hours sometimes and close to 20 workers to ensure the best possible hygiene. However, the use of a machine will reduce manual intervention, reduce manpower involved and improve the efficiency and frequency of flights,“ an airport official said. Airlines such as Vistara, Air India, SpiceJet and Indigo will benefit as they use the airport as a hub. The new technology is likely to be implemented in a few weeks, after trial runs found both efficiency and quality in cle aning were improved through the automated process.The technology is initially set up to be used on narrowbody planes.
“Trial runs for the machine were completed suc cessfully and it is likely to be rolled out in the coming weeks at the IGI airport. This is also likely to improve fuel efficiency for airlines and it will be the first time such a technology is implemented in India,“ Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar told.
The machine involves a computerised and self-contained system which consists of a mobile power unit, spray nozzles and rotating cleaning brushes. According to officials, the technology can be operated by remote control and the process is also much safer as compared to manual cleaning.
“DIAL has always been proactive in embracing technological innovations at the Delhi Airport. We are set to introduce this path-breaking facility of automated aircraft cleaning soon. This facility will significantly add to the apron safety , improved aircraft availability and cost savings for airlines.We have a long standing partnership with Air India SATS and we look forward to taking it to the next level while keeping the interests of Passengers and airlines in the forefront,“ said I Prabhakara Rao, DIAL CEO.
The capital's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in the past has been lauded multiple times for their artworks and installations aimed to depict the cultural heritage of Delhi. Colours of Indian spices like saffron, cardamom and turmeric were chosen to represent different node buildings at the airport, while landscape concepts were chosen to depict the Qutab Minar, Ashoka Pillar, Amir Khusro, Ghalib, etc.
According to DIAL, each artwork installed inside has been chosen specifically to give foreign tourists and visitors a complete `visual' in a soothing experience before they enter the country through the airport. The installations and sculptures installed are planned in such a manner that they could also get a preview of the capital, as well as around the country .Officials said a similar essence will be maintained at Terminal 2 which will become operational shortly , with a majority of the artwork already in place. The theme will closely resemble that of T3.
“Each terminal has a different and varied theme, and ferent and varied theme, and the installations at T2 will have the same essence as T3.These installations at the airport represent the culture and rich heritage of India.The charkha at the airport entrance is also a popular attraction for tourists and symbolises the Swadeshi movement. Travellers can also experience various states represented in the walls, corridors, washrooms of the terminals,“ said an official. DIAL officials also say that different dance forms have been represented at the airport through different nodes. The east side node has representations of Manipuri dance forms, the north node depicts Bhangra, the west node depicts Dandiya and the south node has both Bharatnatyam and Kathakkali illustrations. In addition, installations and sculptures have also been specifically placed to soothe travellers before and after their journey .
“The nodes are in different colours to represent spices and have a dance form of the region illustrated there. Indian mudras or hand gestures of traditional dance forms and yoga have also been used in the passenger arrival area. They have been used as they are believed to aid spiritual and mental well-being,“ said a DIAL official.
Demurrage charges cannot be levied: HC
Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) cannot levy demurrage charges at the IGI airport, Delhi high court said while rejecting its plea challenging a 2009 regulation which restrains the operators from charging any rent on confiscated goods.
A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Deepa Sharma dismissed DIAL's petition challenging the regulation 6(1)(1) of the Handling of Cargo in Customs Areas Regulations, 2009.
However, the bench said if DIAL was of the view that direction by custom authorities not to charge demurrage was “unwarranted“, it could seek guidance from the central government.
“In these circumstances, the grievance that regulation 6 can potentially render DIAL's functioning unviable and result in losses to it, has to fail,“ the bench said.
2016/ self-bag-drop service
Solar energy, Use of
Tripling solar power generation capacity
The Times of India, Apr 13 2016
IGI's triple jump: More solar power to save Rs 12cr per year
Anvit Srivastava Aiming not only to save money , but also to take a stand against global warming, the Indira Gandhi International Airport has tripled its solar power generation capacity to meet a portion of its huge power needs. The green initiative will save the airport Rs 12 crore annually,
More than half of the po wer requirement of Terminal 1D is met by the airport's solar power plant, which became operational in October 2015.
Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which manages the airport, had commissioned a 2.14-Mw plant in January 2014. It has enhanced its generating capacity to 7.84 Mw since. DIAL claims not only financial savings with this measure, but also the status of becoming the first airport in the world to be registered under the Clean Development Mecha nism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
DIAL revealed that internally generated power now constituted 5% of the total power consumption of the airport. To curb the present annual energy bill of over Rs 200 cro re, DIAL aims to raise the generation capacity of the solar power plants to 20 Mw by 2020. I Prabhakara Rao, CEO, DIAL, said the airport currently consumed around 220 million units of power per year, and the plan is to generate 12 million units of solar power every year. “IGI airport has always gi ven the utmost importance to factors affecting the environment,“ said Rao. “We have taken various efficiency measures at Delhi airport, including waste water management system and clean development mechanism.“ The project, which is spread over 18 acres, has so far seen an investment of about Rs 47 crore.
Sujit Nag, executive vicepresident for engineering and projects at DIAL, said that the airport is ideally aligned to make the best use of solar power.“Our panels are south-facing.This helps us make the best use of the solar energy ,“ he said.“The system works on the state-of-art SCADA system to monitor and record daily , real-time data. An independent weather monitoring system to record the parameters in order to validate the plant performance has also been installed.“
Airport officials said the panels of the plant have been constructed in such a way that they have anti-reflective qualities that do not disrupt flight operations. Nag said all steps have been taken in following security measures. The plant has been set up in consultation with security agencies and civil aviation authorities, he said.
2017: reopens as domestic terminal
As it opens for domestic flights on Saturday evening, it could be a walk down memory lane for old-timers using IGI's Terminal 2.
Opened in 1982 as an international terminal, this regular brick and mortar structure was as glamorous as any desi international airport could be. But it was “mothballed“ in May 2010 when Terminal 3 became operational nearby. And glitzy glass and steel structures became the new standard for airports.
Seven years hence, as TOI entered the terminal on Friday, we were struck by the openness of the place as the immigration desks that once divided the fairly large hall for check-ins have all disappeared. A little ahead of it are the security checks. The airline lounges located at the end of a grand staircase beyond the immigration desks have been closed.
Now that T2 is all domestic, its passenger-handling capacity has also gone up. “As an international terminal, T2 could handle 90 lakh passengers every year. Now, as a domestic terminal, it can handle 1.2 crore passengers annually,“ said Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL) CEO I P Rao.
DIAL claims to have spent Rs 100 crore on making T2 usable again for regular flights. It also says that it would spend Rs 65-70 crore annually on maintenance. The most visible changes are the absence of the black, dotted rubber mat flooring. The airport operator has now opted for tiles -unlike the muchdisliked carpet at neighbouring T3 -due to which moving with trolley bags would be a song. All the electric fittings, air conditioning and plumbing have been changed.
Once you clear security checks and then stand in the hallway leading to the boar ding section, you suddenly realise that the terminal, which seemed big as long as it was operational, is now dwarfed by its younger cousins in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. Proceeding to the boarding area reinforces this fact as parts of it are still out of bounds.
The six aerobridges will take GoAir passengers straight to their aircraft. And the big staircase would lead to the lower level to the eight bays from where flyers would board buses to board aircraft.
On the arrival section, things are more or less the same as they were until 2010 save one difference. When coming down from the first level--that is, if you use an aerobridge to deboard--you would no longer be required to stand at the immigration counters that once occupied both sides of the hall. Instead, as domestic flyers, you would straightaway head to the hive conveyor belts or carousels, which seem very long.And these appear long because of a reason: these were built to handle loads of wide-body aircraft like Boeing 747s.But now, these would handle baggage of the much smaller, single-aisle Airbus 320s of GoAir. The art work on the panels above the conveyor belts have been redone.
Duty-free shops, which in the past used to mainly sell alcohol, perfumes and chocolates, have disappeared from both departure and arrival levels. Window-shopping at those places would be sorely missed. Currency exchange counters have also vanished.
Old-timers would also remember this terminal once teem with customs officials.Till the economy was opened up and imported consumer durables started becoming available in India, customs officials used to target passengers coming on “TV , video, music system wali flights“ from Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.
2017-18: upgradation; airlines relocated to T2
The Delhi high court cleared the decks for DIAL to shift part of operations of a few airlines from Terminal 1 to the newly unveiled Terminal 2 at the Indira Gandhi Airport, as a temporary measure.
“IndiGo can’t say that it is either their way, or the runway,” a bench of justices Hima Kohli and Rekha Palli observed, while dismissing the airlines appeal against the shifting of its partial operations by DIAL, a policy decision that had the sanction of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
IndiGo, India’s biggest airline by market share, had approached the court challenging Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL’s) decision relating to shifting a part of the airline’s operations to IGI’s Terminal 2.
The court was categorical that if a policy has been enunciated by experts, courts should not interfere.
“The court cannot claim to be the repository of specialised knowledge or possess technical skills essential for operating a terminal at the airport. There are several considerations entailed for operating airport facilities, which include factoring in the number of passengers, runways, taxiways, apron, city side infrastructure, car parking facilities, widening and realigning of roads, increasing entry gates and departure gates, catering to hand baggage and the commensurate increase in the baggage belts. All these logistics are aspects that need expertise in the technical field and have attendant financial and administrative dimensions of serious magnitude, apart from other practical considerations, best left to be handled by experts,” it noted.
In some relief, the bench gave a week’s time to the airline to suggest to DIAL, sectors other than Delhi-Mumbai, Bengaluru or Kolkata that it is willing to shift from T1 to T2, as long as they collectively meet the yardstick of one-third passenger traffic volumes of their operations at Terminal 1.
“In the event such a request is received by the DIAL within the stipulated timeline, the same shall be considered and a decision taken under written intimation to both the airlines within one week from the date of receipt,” the court said.
Agreeing with the opinion of the single judge, HC noted that “public interest lies in expediting the redevelopment activity at T1, which is a purely administrative decision.” It highlighted that the date of shifting a part of the operations from T1 had to be postponed three times delaying renovation work for which DIAL wants to reduce air traffic at Terminal 1.
“If we may twist the idiom, “My way or the highway” to fit the present context, then the appellants/IndiGo cannot be heard to say that it is either their way, or the run way. IndiGo is tending to forget that this part relocation from Terminal 1to Terminal 2 proposed by DIAL, is only a temporary measure and once T1 is renovated and commences its operations after capacity building, all the airlines can operate from there full throttle and take wings,” HC pointed out.
On December 20 last year, a single judge bench had rejected IndiGo’s plea. DIAL, which operates the airport had asked IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir — operating from Terminal 1 — to shift a third of their flights to Terminal 2 to enable it to expand the terminal to meet growing passenger traffic.
Defending its decision, DIAL said T1 had exceeded its capacity and if airline operations were not shifted partially, it would lead to overcrowding. It also argued that safety and security of passengers was its primary responsibility and in case of fire or a terror threat, an overcrowded airport would lead to serious consequences for which it alone would be answerable, not the airlines.
IndiGo, however, challenged the decision arguing it was being singled out for the partial shifting partially which would result in confusion and cause inconvenience to its passengers. It underlined that being the airline with highest passenger traffic share, it should be allowed to take over the entire Terminal 1 instead of being forced to spread across three terminals as it operates international flights from Terminal 3 (T3).
In its communication, DIAL had directed the three airlines to relocate their operations in “part” and split it by shifting flights to and from some sectors, namely Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, to Terminal 2.
It also said that the capacity of the three airlines to and from the three sectors would amount to around eight million persons per annum and shifting those to T2 would considerably reduce the burden on T1.
IndiGo, however, refused to comment on the issue.
Jumps From 3.4cr In 2012 To Nearly 7cr; With Mumbai, Accounts For 60% Of Domestic Flyers
The capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) saw its passenger handling double in just six years as it catered to almost 7 crore flyers in 2018. In 2012, the count was 3.4 crore.
However, the growth rate is slowing down as infrastructural constraints are limiting the number of flights and passengers its three runways and as many terminals can handle. In 2018, 6.98 crore passengers used IGIA, 10.1% more than 2017 when the count was 6.34 crore. The growth in 2017 was a more robust 14% against 5.56 crore flyers in 2016.
Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shiva-ji Maharaj International Airport (CSIA) saw nearly 5 crore passengers in 2018, up 6.3% from 2017 with the international traffic growing at more than double the rate of domestic flyers at this hub operating at peak capacity. While Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is yet to issue the annual domestic and international flyers’ data for 2018, these two mega hubs accounted for almost 60% of the estimated 20 crore flyers across India.
According to Airports Council International (ACI), the global representative of airports across the world, IGIA was the world’s 16th busiest airport in 2017. While the comparative data for 2018 is not yet out, Delhi is likely to climb at least a couple of places in 2018, said a source.
The sprawling IGIA, which has acres of free space, has been growing slower than its potential as it does not have any free slot or terminal capacity to handle more traffic. The three runways and as many terminals — T1, T2 and T3 — are operating at capacity. The fourth runway and a bigger T1 are supposed to be ready in three to four years and in the next phase, T2 will make way for a bigger T3. Till the fourth runway comes up, IGIA will see marginal phasewise increase in capacity.
With its two cross runways, Mumbai’s CSIA is actually a single-runway airport. Only a handful of slots are free, mostly at late night, which are suitable for international operations. As a result, the airport is witnessing a much higher growth of international passengers than domestic ones. This trend was observed in 2017 also over 2016.
CSIA is the world’s busiest single-runway airport and Mumbai’s aerial connectivity will now grow only when it gets the much-awaited Navi Mumbai airport in about four-five years.
“India may have been the world’s fastest growing aviation market globally in the last four-five years but the airport infra has not kept pace with the exploding traffic. Hovering in Delhi and Mumbai is common,” said a senior pilot.
Why 3-runway IGI has fewer flights than Heathrow, Dubai
Both International Airports Have Only Two Runways
Indira Gandhi International Airport has three runways, but trails those abroad with as many or fewer landing strips in hourly flight handling capacity . It isn't surprising then that the airport catering to India's capital is currently unable to meet the airlines' growing demand for slots to operate additional flights, thus restricting the flyers' options. Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd, which runs the airport, has informed airlines that it cannot add a single flight between 7am and 10pm this summer. IndiGo alone was denied permission for 30 flights it planned for the summer season.
IGIA has been shown up as a laggard in a comparison made by NATS, the UK-based air traffic control services provider which was hired by DIAL to suggest means of augmenting aircraft movement on its three runways. The NATS report accessed by TOI shows two-runway airports like Hong Kong, Dubai International and London's Heathrow and three-runway airports like Istanbul and Beijing have much higher hourly aircraft movement.
Given that the runways at Heathrow and Dubai are so close to each other as to preclude simultaneous use, IGIA 's lower capacity is significant because two of its runways are distant enough as to allow their use at the same time. IGIA 's runways currently handle 62 schedule and five non-schedule (VIP , defence or charter) flights every hour. On paper, the maximum hourly capacity of IGIA 's three runways is 75 aircraft (70 schedule and five non-schedule). It also handles just 45 flights an hour between 11pm and 6am due to special usage procedures meant to cut down on nighttime noise from planes.
Delhi, however, has reasons for its sub-par performance, unlike Mumbai, which has become the world's busiest single-runway airport. As an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official explained, “ A significant part of Delhi is a no-fly zone (the entire aerial portion from AIIMS to the VVIP enclave comprising Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House and the prime minister's residence). There is also the restricted airspace reserved for the Hindon air base in the neighbourhood.“ As a result, planes cannot approach IGIA in a circular manner, only through a narrow corridor, irrespective of which direction they are flying in from. The official added, “The constant VVIP flights al so hamper regular flights.“
AAI disclosed that NATS, after an earlier study , had suggested enhancement of ground infrastructure such as rapid exits and aprons to reduce the time taken to vacate the runway . However, such infrastructure has not been planned at IGIA. DIAL did not offer a comment for this story .
In any case, as the AAI official pointed out, it would be useless to squeeze extra flights into the schedule in the absence of the capacity at the terminals to manage the additional passengers and baggage. “In fact, this is the reason why no low-cost carrier has agreed to shift from Terminal 1 to T2 when such a move led to no extra slots,“ the official added.
Union aviation minister Jayant Sinha is meeting stakeholders at IGIA to discuss NATS' roadmap for a phased increase of hourly flight capacity. AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra too will meet the involved parties to see if the targets set for short and medium term are being met. “Some additional infrastructure is required and we are working on that,“ said Mohapatra.