Rs 16,000 cr Delhi airport upgrade: Get ready for a new terminal and a parallel runway

The GMR group plans to invest Rs 16,000 crore for an expansion of Delhi Airport that will double the capacity of domestic terminal T1, increase the capacity of international terminal T3, lay a new runway, and build a new terminal over the next seven years. 

Despite being approved by the government, the plan was delayed due to resistance from airlines. It will be put in place next month.

“Significant growth in the operation of low-cost carriers translated into exponential growth of passenger traffic for the airport,” said I Prabhakara Rao, chief executive officer of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL). 

T1, which has the capacity to handle 20 million passengers a year, will see its capacity double to 40 million passengers by 2021. After the expansion, a new terminal, T4, will be built to cater for the domestic operations of full-service carriers. As part of the renovations at T1, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir have been asked to shift operations to Terminal 2. 

“We have fully refurbished T2, which now has the capacity to handle 12 million passengers a year. We have asked the airlines to shift one-third of their operations to T2. After the renovation we will shift the airlines back to T1,” Rao said.

IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir have order books that will see their combined fleet size cross 800 in the next few years.

Simultaneously, the operator will lay a fourth runway parallel to the third. 

“We have increased the hourly movement of aircraft, but it is not sufficient. A new runway will increase aircraft movement from 73 to 110 an hour,” Rao said. Delhi airport will become the first airport in the country to have four runways. The country’s busiest airport now faces chronic congestion, forcing aircraft circle for 15 minutes before landing.

The integrated domestic terminal will also get a new metro station as part of Delhi Metro’s Phase 3 expansion plan. T3 is already connected to the city through the Airport Express Metro. “This will make Delhi airport the first in the world to have separate metro stations for all its terminals,” Rao said.

Analysts said the near monopoly of the Delhi airport in the region supported GMR’s expansion plan but they warned of a deterioration in the company’s leverage. 

“DIAL’s ratings factor in the incremental amount of debt to part-fund the project as well as the construction and execution risk associated with it,” rating agency Moody’s said.

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