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Delhi on Saturday got a spanking new world-class Rs 9,000 crore airport that will integrate domestic and international operations and is expected to handle 34 million passengers annually.
The new terminal or Terminal 3 (T3), said to be the sixth largest in the world, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who said the Indian aviation sector has the potential to observe up to $120 billion of investment by 2020.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit were among the dignitaries present on the occasion to dedicate T3 built by GMR group backed developer Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL).
Spread over 4 km, 80 per cent of T3 is made of glass and supported by metal frames. The nine level terminal building would be used for 90 per cent of the entire passenger movement in the airport.
Comfortable lounges, nap and shower rooms will add to passenger comfort in the airport which will have a mix of restaurants, bars, cafes and fast food outlets in around 20,000 sq mt of commercial space.
"An airport is often is the first introduction to the country. A good airport would signal a new India, committed to join the ranks of modern industrialised nations," the Prime Minister said.
Dr Singh said Delhi's new airport proves the success of public-private partnership model in execution of large infrastructure projects.
He said India should have airports that are receptive to the comfort of passengers even as they meet the highest standards of safety. They should employ the most modern of technologies but also exude cultural warmth.
Noting that his government had launched a modernisation and capacity expansion programme for major airports some years ago, he said, "Today we see one of the successes of that initiative."
"The commissioning of this terminal will be a significant step forward in developing Delhi as a vital hub. It will encourage feeder traffic from the non-metro airports being developed by the Airports Authority of India," Dr Singh said.
Besides three functional runways, the T3 would have, among other things, 168 check-in counters, 78 aerobridges (more than 64 in Singapore), 97 travelators and a multi-level air-conditioned car park to accommodate 4,300 cars, both first in India.
Operations at the new integrated terminal would begin from the middle of this month with Air India and all international airlines shifting their operations from the existing terminal buildings.
Officials of DIAL said all international carriers, operating from Delhi, would shift their operations from the existing international terminal or T2 to T3 on July 14. On July 30-31, the operations of all full service Indian carriers, including Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher, would shift along with their low-cost wings.
The swanky T3 would also be "barrier free" to suit the requirements of passengers with "special needs or reduced mobility".