Hyderabad/Bangalore: GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHAIL), the company building the new international airport in Hyderabad, is in talks with 15 foreign airlines including British Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines, to operate direct flights from West Asia and Europe to the southern city.
The new airport, to begin commercial operations in March 2008, also aims to be a transit hub for flights connecting Europe with Southeast Asian countries. Currently, 12 carriers, including KLM Royal Dutch Airways, Malaysian Airlines and Qatar Airways, connect cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Doha to Hyderabad.
“The Hyderabad airport will emerge as the hub in this part of the globe. It is centrally located within two hours flying time from all major cities in India and three-five hours from all the Southeast Asian countries,” T. Srinagesh, chief operating officer of GHIAL said. The existing airport at Begumpet that handled 5.95 million passengers and cargo of 46.4 million tonnes in 2006-07 will be closed with the opening of the new airport at Shamshabad, 25 km away on the city’s outskirts.
Hyderabad-based construction group, GMR, holds a 63% stake in the Rs2,478 crore airport project and leads a consortium comprising Malaysian Airports Holdings Berhad, including the Kuala Lumpur international airport (it has an 11% stake), the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Andhra Pradesh government (13% each).
The GMR airport will become operational a month ahead of the new international airport at Devanahalli on the outskirts of Bangalore, being built by Bangalore International Airport Ltd, a holding company of a consortium of Siemens Projects Ventures; a German Infrastructure company; Larsen & Toubro, India’s largest engineering company; Zurich Airport; AAI and the Karnataka government. The project will cost Rs1930 crore.
“There are already several international flights operating from the city (Bangalore). The airport management is doing every effort to get more airlines,” said V.P. Baligar, secretary, Infrastructure Development Department of Karnataka and a board member on BIAL.
Analysts forecast that the new airports will spur economic growth in the two technology hubs as they are linked with direct flights to global cities, and are years away from fighting each other for market share. “There is no competition between Bangalore and Hyderabad (airports). There is huge gap in growth and demand. GMR is already gearing up to build additional capacity for 2013,” said Raajeev B. Batra, executive director, KPMG, an audit firm. Both the airports are planning maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities to help airlines service their aircraft.
With contracts awarded to operate cargo, flight kitchens, duty-free shopping, fuel farm and hydrant, hotel and maintenance, and MRO operations, the Hyderabad airport has seen a 69% progress in work. In Bangalore, the completion of the roof on the passenger terminal building on Tuesday signified a two-thirds progress.
Nearly 8.39 million passengers annually fly in and out of the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd airport, almost double its capacity, said B.R. Sena, additional general manager at the Bangalore airport. The Devanahalli airport is being designed to handle 14.5 million passengers in the initial phase by 2010 and eventually expand in phases to handle 40 million passengers.