NEW DELHI : Switzerland’s Zurich Airport International AG on Friday emerged as the highest bidder for the proposed international airport at Jewar, Uttar Pradesh, on the outskirts of Delhi, sparking hopes for the long-delayed project and the development of the area around it.

The first phase of the project is due to be operational by 2023, when it will handle 12 million passengers per year, said an official of Noida International Airport Ltd (NIAL).

Zurich Airport pipped the other three bidders—the GMR Group-led consortium comprising Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), besides Adani Enterprises Ltd and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings Ltd by offering the highest bid, according to a NIAL official.

While Zurich Airport offered revenue share of 400.97 per passenger, GMR Group-led DIAL, which had the right of first refusal, offered 351. Adani Group and Anchorage’s bids stood at 360 and 205 per passenger, respectively.

The final tender still needs to be awarded by the airport’s project monitoring and implementation committee on 2 December, but this is likely to be a mere formality, said a NIAL official, requesting anonymity.

Zurich Airport said it will design, develop and operate the new greenfield airport in Jewar under a 40-year concession.

It will invest 650 million Swiss francs ( 4,663.731 crore) for the first phase, which will take four years to be completed.

The Jewar airport will be the National Capital Region’s third, after the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) and Ghaziabad’s Hindon. The new airport will be 100km from the GMR Group-operated Delhi airport, the capital’s only international airport so far.

The second phase of the Jewar airport is due to be completed by FY31 and will increase its capacity to 30 million passengers per year, while the third and fourth phases are due to be finished by FY36 and FY40, respectively, further enhancing its capacity to 50 million and 70 million passengers, respectively.

“After the successful sale of its remaining shares in the airport in Bengaluru in 2017, Flughafen Zurich AG is excited to be again present in India, a focus market for the company," the company said, using its Swiss name.

While the development is a positive for the aviation sector, Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, a director with Crisil Infrastructure Advisory, said: “It will be important that external connectivity is addressed on a war footing and an unencumbered site for development is also given to the concessionaire at the earliest."

A real estate consultant was, however, cautious about the move. “Until there are visible signs of construction activity at Jewar, the potential for other real estate developments, such as residential, commercial or retail, will remain on hold," said Santhosh Kumar, vice-chairman, Anarock Property consultants.

Developers bought large tracts of land in the vicinity several years ago, hoping to cash in on the airport project when it was announced in 2001. But even after today’s development, they may refrain from launching commercial and residential projects due to oversupply, Kumar added.

Another analyst said he was optimistic about the area’s potential, despite the chequered history.

“We have seen in the case of Gurgaon, how proximity to the airport benefited the real estate sector in the city," said Mudassir Zaidi, executive director-north, Knight Frank India, a real estate consultancy.

“There is certainly a need for another airport in the NCR, given its geographic spread of NCR. Property prices tend to increase once an infrastructure project is announced. In case of Jewar airport, we will witness real growth and appreciation now."

These could lead to the Noida-Greater Noida area emerging on a par with Gurgaon in the future, he added.

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