NThe board of directors for Airports Authority of India (AAI) has agreed to build a third runway at Delhi airport in response to two years of growing congestion at the privately controlled and operated airport.
The Rs142 crore runway, including other infrastructure that goes along with it, will be ready by the end of June 2008, a senior AAI official said, asking not to be quoted. Delhi’s airport, along with Mumbai’s, spent most of its peak hours in 2006 dealing with delays up to an hour each because of crowded runways and taxiways as total aircraft movements reached 35 an hour.
AAI commissioned and built three new taxiways on one of the two existing runways, which made it possible to have planes empty the runways sooner on landing. That brought the delays down to under 20 minutes, said the official, and as long as private aircraft and helicopters continue to use the airport, that is about as low as the delays are likely to get.
But the behind-the-scene tension between AAI and Delhi International Airport Ltd, the GMR Group-led private consortium that won a tender to operate the airport, remained unabated—AAI officials and officials from ministry of civil aviation said they felt the consortium was dragging its feet on repairs and upkeep of the terminals.
“We are keeping up our part of the deal,” said the senior official. “But we are not seeing any effort on their part to make improvements.”
The contract for the Delhi airport, as in all airports in India, is for AAI to handle navigational and airside activities, while the private partner (GMR in Delhi, GVK in Mumbai, etc.) would handle the terminals, parking and other ground-related work. A Delhi International Airport spokesman, Arun Arora, did not return a call for comment on this story.