NEW DELHI: India started work on Saturday on a project that will enable New Delhi airport to handle 37 million passengers a year by 2010, more than double its current capacity, aviation officials said.
The Rs85-billion ($1.94 billion) revamp will see a third terminal building constructed in the next three years and a new runway by 2008 to ease congestion at the airport.
The new runway -- the airport’s third landing strip -- would be one of Asia’s longest at 4,430 metres (14,530 feet) and would allow Airbus A-380 super jumbos to land, Delhi International Airport Pvt. Ltd. (DIAL) said.
Work will be completed before the Commonwealth Games open in New Delhi in Oct. 2010.
The DIAL is a consortium in charge of developing, maintaining and operating New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi international airport.
“With the completion of this airport, Delhi will boast of a world class airport which would not only cater to growing aviation traffic, but also serve as a benchmark for other airports,” DIAL managing director Srinivas Bommidala said in a statement.
India’s booming economy and reforms have led to around half a dozen private airlines starting operations in the past three years, putting tremendous pressure on airports in big cities like New Delhi and Mumbai.
Passengers often have to spend over an hour in the air as planes hover overhead airports, waiting to land, and complain of poor infrastructure and facilities.
“We will see that infrastructure does not remain a bottleneck to India’s economic growth,” Sonia Gandhi, head of India’s ruling Congress Party, said after unveiling the plaque that marked the start of construction of the new terminal building.
Analysts say creaky infrastructure may impede a rise in India’s economic growth rates to double digits in coming years.
The economy is set to grow at 9.2 percent in the year ending March 2007.
Passenger traffic is set to grow at 20 percent annually for the next 10 years and domestic airlines would need at least 400 new planes by 2012 to the meet such growth.
DIAL, a joint venture of India’s GMR Infrastructure Ltd. , German airport operator Fraport and the state-run Airports Authority of India, won the rights in February 2006 to develop New Delhi airport.