GMR, Zurich Airport will be competing for same international traffic

The upcoming airport at Greater Noida’s Jewar, to be developed by Zurich Airport, will be competing for the same international traffic as Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, as the two airports will have the same point of call.


A recent meeting held by Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola to discuss the issue of point of call decided that since the Jewar airport was within 150 km of IGI Airport, it would be designated as the second airport of Delhi. The meeting was attended by executives of GMR and Zurich Airport as well as senior officials of the Airports Authority of India. “Points of call are given based on city and distance. We decided that being in close proximity, both the airports will have similar designated call — just like it was in the case of Mumbai and Navi Mumbai,” an official aware of the development said. “We also didn’t give a separate status of port of call to Kannur Airport (Kerala), which is also a greenfield airport.”


When an airport is designated “point of call” for foreign airlines, their aircraft can arrive or depart from there. The number of points of call is capped for different countries. For instance, the designated carriers of the United Arab Emirates have up to 13 points of call in India, which means its aircraft can land and take off from these 13 destinations.


A similar point of call means that the Jewar airport will have to compete for the same set of international airlines against GMR-owned Delhi airport. Zurich Airport, the Swiss airport developer, will invest Rs 4,670 crore in the greenfield airport in the first phase. The airport, which will be finished in four phases and will entail a cost of Rs 10,575 crore, is estimated to handle more than 70 million passengers per year. Zurich Airport won the bid, offering a revenue share of Rs 400.97 per passenger to the authority, against GMR, which had offered Rs 351.


Globally, the pattern is similar for cities having two airports. For instance, in the United Kingdom’s air service agreement with other countries, all of London’s six airports — Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, London City, and the city airport — have the same point of call.


Zurich Airport feels that the move may help to put it on a level with IGI Airport. “If both airports operate on a level playing field with respect to traffic rights for international flights, airspace utilisations, provisions of government resources such as immigration, Customs and security personnel, the (Greater) Noida airport will be able to offer very competitive process and quick and easy access,” Daniel Bircher, chief executive officer of Zurich Airport International Asia, said in a recent media interview.


According to a feasibility study of the Jewar airport by consulting firm PwC, Delhi’s international traffic by 2029-30 is expected to reach 31 million. By 2050, international traffic from the hinterland is expected to reach 44 million. “In the initial years, traffic at the new proposed airport is likely to be dominated by domestic air passenger movement. However, with increasing congestion at IGIA, international traffic may also start diverting towards the new airport. By 2050, the Jewar airport may look towards serving 27 international and 27 domestic destinations,” the report by PwC, reviewed by Business Standard, said.


However, a lot will depend on the Uttar Pradesh government’s ability to complete the high-speed rail and road network before the commencement of flights.  


“In the initial stages, the challenge to profitability and attractiveness of a greenfield secondary airport, where the primary airport is owned by a competing entity primarily, depends on its ability to connect itself with the catchment area. In this case, the Uttar Pradesh government’s ability to complete the high-speed rail and road network before the commencement of flights is going to be a significant determinant of the profitability of the Jewar airport,” said Debayan Sen, head of India practice for aviation consulting firm Landrum & Brown.

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