Friday, July 16, 2010

The Indian Elephant Marches Strong

If airports were to be a barometer of a country’s economic progress, Indian airports were way behind and didn’t even come in the top 50 airports of the world. With the emergence of new world-class airports of Bangalore and Hyderabad, Delhi's international airport is now among top five airports of the world. Not so long ago, a report published by Foreign Policy, a bi-monthly published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace had listed India's Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi among the world’s worst five airports. The report had mentioned how New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport had completely failed to benefit from the country's celebrated economic expansion. From being voted last year as the worst five in the world to the sixth largest in the world (area wise), things have finally improved for the New Delhi international airport as its swanky new terminal T3 becomes fully operational. At 5,02,000 sq m, T3 will be the sixth largest terminal in the world after Dubai International's T3, which is 15,00,000 sq m, Beijing Capital International Airport (9,86,000 sq m) and Madrid's Bajaras Airport.

With the emergence of India as a hotbed of global business and investment, It was only fair that New Delhi's airport was a welcoming sight showcasing the economic marvel of India to the visitors. New Delhi, which is not only the hotbed of the Indian political structure also hosts the headquarters of some of the biggest global companies of the world. While companies like Pepsi, Coke, Nestle, British Airways and others have been around for a while, innumerable MNCs such as Genpact, IBM, Microsoft, WNS, ESPN, American Express, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Canon, Nokia, Ericsson, Sapient and ABN Amro have in the last few months made a beeline for commercial spaces in New Delhi's satellite town of Gurgaon, most of them moving their headquarters to the new premises.

The Indian economic marvel story has been in the news for quite some time now. India's young, educated workforce, expanding factory output and smart fiscal policies has been propelling its economy at a fast pace and has an expected GDP growth of 7-8% in CY 2010 while developed markets had been growing at around 2%. The Indians were always knows to posses deep rooted entrepreneurial traits but nothing demonstrates the entrepreneurial traits of the average Indian like the spanking new ultra modern airport terminal (T3) in New Delhi that is expected to handle 34 million passengers annually with ease.

What’s more impressive than the smooth operationalization of the terminal is the fact that the new airport terminal was completed in a record time of 37 months from the date of the concept being approved by the government. Considering that Singapore's Changi Airport's T3 took 76 months for completion and Heathrow's new Terminal 5 took 60 months, the new terminal T3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport underlines the impressive India growth story. The new airport terminal befits the world’s second fastest growing major economy that sees itself as an economic, intellectual and military, superpower in the next decade.

Designed by Mott MacDonald and HOK architects and consultants of the UK, the building used up over 6,00,000 cubic m of concrete, equivalent to 240 Olympic-size swimming pools, 1.1 million cubic m of earthwork; the embankment filling used for the runway is sufficient to build a 70-km, eight-lane highway. More than 1,00,000 MT of rebar- reinforcing steel was used-nearly four times the amount that went into the construction of the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata. And 95,000 sq m of glass wall curtains on the terminal building equal the size of 13 football fields. The impressive statistics of the airport have been telegraphed around the world: nine levels, three runways, 168 check-in counters, 78 aerobridges and a car park for 4,300. In terms of sheer size, quantum of investments and integration of passenger facilities, it is a big milestone for the aviation industry of the country. With 48 boarding gates, 78 aerobridges, 168 check-in counters, 95 immigration counters and capacity to handle 34 million passengers per annum, there is no match for T3. Direct metro connectivity and an airport hotel are added attractions. The swanky T3 would also be “barrier free” to suit the requirements of passengers with “special needs or reduced mobility”. The real success story of the New Delhi airport constructed by Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd (DIAL), a subsidiary of GMR holdings is that the company was able to demonstrate to the world that it is possible to think of investments to the tune of $3 billion in an airport project in India.

World's Largest Airport Terminals

* Dubai T3 - 1,500,000 sq m
* Beijing T3 - 986,000 sq m
* Hong Kong T2 - 570,000 sq m
* Bangkok Suvarnabhumi - 563,000 sq m
* Mexico City T2 - 548,000 sq m
* Delhi T3 - 502,000 sq m
* Madrid T4 - 470,000 sq m

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