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'Delhi must provide good connectivity with airport'

By Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 18: The Centre today asked the Delhi government to take long-term measures and ensure blockage-free connectivity between airport and city side.

By 2025, the revamped airport on the outskirts of the national capital is projected to cater to nearly 85 million passengers annually, up from 13 million at present.

''The connectivity by roads and Metro mass transit rail must improve before the Commonwealth Games in 2010,'' said Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad.

''Otherwise, it will take them as much time to reach the city as to fly here from (say) Mumbai,'' he added.

The government has decided to privatise Delhi and Mumbai airports, the country's busiest, in an effort to upgrade the existing aviation infrastructure.

Mr Prasad said the new generation of aircraft like the Airbus A380, which can accommodate upto 800 passengers in double-deck configuration, will put physical and technological pressure on airports.

The terminal bays, baggage handling and immigration clearances will need to be expanded by this year-end, he added while addressing a industry meet organised by the Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism (FAST).

Many airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines has placed orders for A380 and will be using Indian airports when they get deliveries of new aircraft.

Indian airports need to generate additional revenues from non-aeronautical activities by using surplus land for shopping malls, multiplexes, office blocks and golf courses, said Mr Prasad. At the same time, he added, communications, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) services will require to be upgraded.

Under the government's plan to revamp Delhi airport, a consortium of private companies will hold 74 per cent equity (of which foreign investment can be 49 per cent) and remaining 26 per cent will rest with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and other government institutions.

The GMR group is leading the consortium. The major mandatory projects to be completed by 2010 are new parallel runway, parallel taxiways, development of international and domestic terminals, car parks and roads to the airport complex.

The Joint Venture company will operate, manage and develop the airport for 30 years with an option of extension of the term for an additional 30 years. The private consortium is required to submit the initial development plan and a master plan for 20 years, besides maintaining service quality.

The airport will require Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore in the next five years to get anywhere close to international standards.

Congested waiting areas, lack of comfortable seating, slow baggage handling and unreliable power supplies make air travel uncomfortable for a fast expanding middle-class despite the introduction of many new budget airlines.

Analysts predict growth rates of 20 per cent a year over the next five years as rising incomes and lower fares make air travel more affordable.

UNI

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