Daniel Ship, Managing Editor of our Indian edition, reports from the new Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
India’s civil aviation infrastructure is being developed on a fast track and a major milestone has just been passed: the country’s biggest – and the world’s sixth largest – passenger terminal building, Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, was inaugurated on July 3. The inauguration was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, among many other dignitaries.
Trials of the check-in, security and baggage handling infrastructure using mock passengers and baggage have been completed. Proving flights with various sizes of aircraft (Code C – B738/A320/A321; Code E – B777; Code F – A380), which would test all the systems, were being conducted in the second half of July, as this edition went to press. Feedback and experience gained from these proving flights was then be used to iron out any deficiencies ahead of full commercial operations, which are slated to begin from the end of July.
A Source of Pride for Indians
The new terminal building is a major event – a source of pride for Indians – and is considered to be very important for tourism, as it provides the first impression for most foreigners flying into India. T3 has also been timed to be ready for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which will be begin in Delhi on October 3. The entire project was completed in just over three years. Praful Patel, India’s Honourable Minister of Civil Aviation, remarked: “It’s rare that the same Minister who laid the foundation stone also presided over the inauguration of a completed project.”
I personally remember flying into Delhi back in 2003. At that time, the airport was overcrowded, disorganised, run down, primitive and very dirty. The washrooms were flooded and the whole place had an unpleasant smell. Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), a public-private consortium, took over the airport’s operations in 2006 and has been working steadily to improve things ever since. Though their plan was always for an integrated terminal to handle the majority of flights, they also constructed Terminal 1D as an interim solution as the airport was already operating way over its capacity at the time DIAL took over. DIAL has also invested heavily in airside infrastructure, including constructing a third runway. With the new terminals, the airport’s capacity has leapt from 12 to 60 million passengers per annum (mppa). Eventually, DIAL plans to build another terminal – a mirror image of T3, bringing the airport’s total capacity up to 100 mppa.
PPP Model Proved
DIAL is led by GMR, one of India’s most successful infrastructure companies. GMR is also the major player in several other airports coming up in recent years, including Rajiv Gandhi International in Hyderabad and Sabiha Gökçen in Istanbul (see Airports International July 2010). A GMR-led consortium recently won the contract to build, modernise and expand Malé International Airport, the main international airport in the Maldives.
Other stakeholders in DIAL are Fraport, Airports Authority of India and Eraman Malaysia. This Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model has been adopted in India’s civil aviation policy as a means of rapidly bringing the nation’s infrastructure up to date. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of T3, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh commented that: “It proves the success of the PPP model in execution of large infrastructure projects.”
He also noted that more than 50 different government departments were involved in the project – normally, this would mean incredible delays in India. A spokesman for DIAL explained: “The airport, though under DIAL’s management, has representation from multiple ministries and government agencies such as Customs, Immigration and Health, the Delhi Government, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, etc. Delay on the part of any one department could have serious repercussions on the project. “Practically every agency cooperated to the fullest, thus making the project a true example of PPP. Our Chairman, G M Rao, in his speech also mentioned the role of the National Facilitation Committee [which comprises Secretaries of various Government Ministries] which played a key role in getting their subordinate departments to facilitate the timely completion of the airport.”
How Did They Build it So Fast?
In fact, one of GMR’s outstanding achievements has been to consistently complete their projects ahead of schedule – unusual in any infrastructure project, particularly in India. A spokesperson for DIAL told Airports International how they managed to complete the project so quickly:
“We focused on the 3 ‘M’s to finish the project on time. These were:
• Men – more than 45,000 people were employed at the project peak. Out of these, nearly 30,000 were housed on the project site itself. DIAL built a mini township complete with housing, medical and recreational facilities for the workers. This allowed us to retain a dedicated workforce even during the time when there was competition from many other infrastructure projects underway in the National Capital Region.
• Machinery – DIAL brought in the best and largest machinery for this project. One of India’s largest concrete batching plants was set up at the site for the project. In addition, other machinery such as rollers, sensor pavers, tower cranes, etc. were all employed at a scale never seen before in the country.
• Material – To overcome any supply chain issues (which could have delayed the project), we stored 30 days worth of stock of all essential material on site. This included cement, aggregate, steel and other materials. We tied up with suppliers for a dedicated supply to the project and at its peak, nearly 1,000 trucks used to pull into the project site each day with material.
When you consider the obstacles faced in this project, its speedy completion becomes even more impressive. For example, there were literally thousands of buried cables, pipes and other infrastructure from the old airport which had never been mapped out. These were discovered one by one as they were dug up, and several had to be relocated on an urgent basis. The site for the third runway was used as a discharge pond for sewage from nearby areas for many years. Before constructing the runway, the sewage flow had to be redirected and the pond filled up. The airport land was also home to a few villages. This land had been acquired by the AAI back in the 1970s but the villages had never been relocated. DIAL facilitated the relocation of these villages and only then work could begin. A part of the airport land was also home to numerous species of wildlife which were relocated to wildlife sanctuaries.
Built for Speed
In such a large terminal building, passengers may have to travel quite a distance – up to three-quarters of a mile (1.2 km) – to and from the gates. This is mitigated by a series of 92 travellators (including one 387ft (118m) long, the longest in Asia), which are seen here for the first time in an Indian airport, though there are plans to introduce them in several other terminals in the near future. This is also the first time in India that both domestic and international passengers will walk in one stream until check-in, after which international passengers go to Immigration and domestic passengers head straight for Security. With 168 common use check-in counters and a five-level in-line baggage screening system, the check-in process has been designed for speed and convenience. Having handled more than 24 million passengers in 2008-2009 and with increasing traffic expected in years to come, quick and efficient check-in is a must at this airport.
One noteworthy feature of the architecture is the ‘Canyon’ area, which is the signature feature of the architecture firm HOK that designed the terminal building. This is an open, airy space between the landside and airside portions of the terminal, decorated with beautiful artwork and plenty of greenery. The concept is that, having cleared all the hurdles of check-in, immigration and security, departing passengers are refreshed as they pass through the Canyon on the way to their gates. Similarly, arriving passengers who have been in an enclosed space for some time may feel relieved by the open area, which is also the only place where the entire 92ft (28m) height of the terminal building can be seen.
T3 has a very futuristic look, a lot like other Indian terminals of recent years. Some effort has been made to include items of traditional Indian art and culture, but these stand out from the overall steel-and-glass appearance of the building. A theme called “Flavours of India” has been adopted; for example, the four piers have been coloured as red (chilli), green (cardamom), yellow (turmeric) and orange (saffron). Several striking installations also represent Indian culture, including a more than 656ft (200m)-long painting, Aspects of India by Paresh Maity, a giant statue of the Sun God Surya’s head (representing new beginnings) and one large wall in the Canyon area with an installation of the Mudras (symbolic hand gestures used in Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism). These last two are the work of Satish Gupta, an Indian artist of international renown.
The similar look and feel to some of the other privatised airports that have been developed in the past couple of years (notably, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Delhi’s Terminal 1D) is partly the result of the AAI’s preference for futuristic architecture. During a question and answer session at the Aerodrome India 2010 event in Mumbai, Ansgar Sickert, Managing Director of Fraport Airport Operations India Pvt Ltd, was asked why a more traditional style reflecting Indian culture was not adopted. He replied that a plan was proposed for a sandstone-faced building with a more traditional look, but that idea was rejected in favour of the futuristic, glass and steel look.
Looking deeper, though different PPP consortia are operating these airports, the lion’s share of the construction has been contracted to the same engineering firm, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), which is also one of the stakeholders in Bengaluru International Airport. Moreover, many of the large structures in these airports, including the roof of T3, have been designed and executed by Geodesic Techniques, an Indian engineering company specialised in large-span structures. The roof structure of Terminal 3 is built of steel and weighs more than 400 tonnes. Instead of raising it piece by piece and assembling it on top of the 92ft level, the whole structure was assembled at the departure level and then raised in one piece using hydraulic jacks.
T3 is not just big; it is also a very modern facility equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including several firsts for Indian airports. Much attention has been drawn to the 78 airbridges – the most in any terminal in the world. DIAL has exceeded the contractual requirement by providing for 90% of passengers to be boarded via airbridge, which stands out all the more when you consider that most domestic flights in India still use buses to bring the passengers from the gate to the plane, even where airbridges are available. This is also typical of GMR; Chairman Rao reportedly gave one standard directive for the project: “Go for nothing but the best.” Throughout the terminal, the most advanced technology available has been used.
The AAI also recently decided to start building a new 295ft plus (90+m) ATC Tower in the near future, rather than five years down the road as originally planned. Mr V P Agrawal, Chairman AAI, while acknowledging the good work done by GMR, their JV partner of Delhi Airport, displayed a high degree of magnanimity by placing on record his gratitude towards GMR for adding this marvel of an asset to the AAI’s infrastructural inventory of Delhi airport. The AAI has also left no stone unturned in modernising the ATM service facilities at Delhi. It could be said that commensurate upgrades have been made, thus not only ensuring safe and smooth movement of the envisaged mammoth traffic levels but also giving the desired boost to the value addition to the airport infrastructure of Delhi. The facilities upgraded/added are: Automation of the ATS system, installation of AutoTrac III, reduction of horizontal separation, PBN, Airport Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (ASMGCS), Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS), new format of Flight Plan (FPL) and, of course, the prestigious GAGAN project in collaboration with ISRO, to name a few.
The check-in counters have been equipped with ARINC CUPPS (Common Use Passenger Processing System), another first for India. ARINC says CUPPS makes airline check-in applications fully portable, generating savings in reduced ongoing development and support costs. It says it can also bring further savings to both airports and airlines through more efficient printing of boarding passes and baggage tags. Even the older CUTE (Common Use Terminal Equipment) system has only been used in the country since 2008, and to date, in just a few airports.
Also characteristic of the new breed of Indian airports is the extensive commercial space in Terminal 3. Around 215,285 sq ft (20,000 m2) has been devoted to duty free, retail and food and beverage business, and the layout of the terminal is designed to have passengers flowing right past the maximum amount of commercial space. There is also a 100-room transit hotel in the terminal, with 32 rooms available in the security hold area for transit passengers.
Since the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008, security has been on everyone’s mind in India and the Ministry of Civil Aviation has brought in strict security measures at airports. Terminal 3 represents the most advanced level of security ever seen in the country, beginning with the airport approach roads. These have been equipped with cameras and license plate readers so that every vehicle entering the system is checked and every driver’s photograph is taken. The 4,300-car multi-level car park, another first for an Indian airport, is similarly equipped with CCTV cameras, under-vehicle scanners, as well as boom barriers at each lane. In the arrivals forecourt, the corridor is one foot higher than the driveway to prevent vehicles from crashing into the terminal building. There are crash rated bollards at the end of the corridor and also blast protected dustbins – terrorists planted bombs in dustbins in the recent Mumbai attacks.
The five-level inline baggage screening system is also the most advanced in the country as it has an additional level of CTX scanners (another first in India). The terminal is also equipped with a Threat Containment Vehicle for rapid deployment in case bombs or other threats are discovered.
The entire terminal has a multi-level Access Control System with biometrics. It is also covered extensively by over 2,800 CCTV security cameras with video analytics and there is a separate four-layered Perimeter Intrusion Detection System.
Daniel Ship, Managing Editor of our Indian edition, reports from the new Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.