Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport’s operator Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) had asked the low cost carriers to shift flight operations in full or in part to T2 from the beginning of this year to facilitate the expansion of T1 as it continued to experience growing traffic. Due to disagreements, however, the deadlines continued to get deferred, with IndiGo terming the order as arbitrary, illegal and mala fide. GoAir has, however, agreed to shift its operations to the revamped terminal 2 (T2).
Here is all you need to know about the issue:
Terminal 1 of IGI caters to domestic traffic while the swanky Terminal 3 caters to all international and part of the domestic traffic. Earlier, Terminal 2 handled the international traffic at IGI but it was closed down to make way for the more modern and larger T3 in 2010. Since then, T2 remained operational for only three months a year to cater to Haj pilgrims. The terminal was revamped by DIAL at a cost of Rs 100 crore to handle part of the domestic traffic as it plans to expand the T1 by merging terminal 1D and 1C to an ultimate capacity of handling 40 million passengers a year.
Airlines have been reluctant to make the shift to the airport as they feel it would cause inconvenience to passengers, split operations between two terminal by potentially creating competitive disadvantage and also the lack of extra parking bays and other infrastructure. IndiGo raised the matter with the Ministry of Civil Aviation asking its intervention. The ministry had told both DIAL and the airlines in June that they must arrive at an amicable solution in the matter. It said if there was no mutually agreed solution, then DIAL would be free to decide on the matter and it would be binding on the carriers.
Initially, DIAL had given the airlines three options. They could either shift entire operations of one airline to T2, or shift a third of all flights of all three airlines from T1 to T2, or shift 20 per cent flights from peak hours of all three airlines from T1 to T2 in non-peak hours.
GoAir, meanwhile, announced their move to the revamped terminal in a statement. “In order to facilitate the growth of IGI Airport, GoAir has mutually agreed with DIAL to move its entire operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 from October 29, until the completion of expansion of Terminal 1. This is a temporary move to ease the pressure of fast growing traffic at Terminal 1, so that the expansion works can be carried out at Terminal 1 effectively and efficiently,” said the GoAir statement. The carrier said that it will ensure that its passengers are made aware about the changes and also indicating through the statement that the revamped T2 will be operational from October 29.
The move of GoAir and continued demand for other airlines to move partially has not gone down well with the likes of IndiGo with the airline president and whole-time director Aditya Ghosh writing to the Civil Aviation Ministry and DIAL CEO I Prabhakara Rao calling the decision as prejudiced and mala fide.
“The unilateral decision by DIAL to allow one airline (GoAir) to shift its entire operations from terminal 1 to terminal 2, while at the same time directing two other airlines (SpiceJet and IndiGo) to relocate in part…is arbitrary, illegal and mala fide,” Ghosh wrote in the letter.
Ghosh said that the move would create hostile discrimination, cause prejudice and inconvenience to passengers. IndiGo has asserted that while GoAir fulfilled the first option given by DIAL by moving entire operations to T2, the option had been fully satisfied and IndiGo and SpiceJet should, as a result, not be asked to shift part operations to the new terminal as well.
“In these circumstances, there was no occasion for DIAL to assume authority and to exercise discretion in order to arbitrarily impose its option 2 of split operations on the remaining two airlines, i.e. SpiceJet and IndiGo,” Ghosh’s letter said, adding that the airline was willing to make the shift completely if DIAL provides additional bussing gates, proper night parking bays etc. DIAL has said that fulfilling these demands at the moment is not feasible.
IndiGo said that shifting part operations would mean it would be operating from multiple terminals that would put them at a competitive disadvantage against carriers operating from a single terminal like T3.
IndiGo denied that it will not be able to make the shift to the new terminal by October 29 deadline on account of the large number of advance bookings it had already done for October. The airline also requested four months time to implement a mutually acceptable plan to grow through with the relocation of flight operations. SpiceJet is yet to announce whether it will shift to T2 by the October 29 deadline.
Terminal 1 is divided into Terminal 1C (arrival) and Terminal 1D (departure). Terminal 1A and 1B remain unused. T2 is around eight kms away from T1. The domestic departure capacity at T1 is 10 million passengers per year. Terminal 3 is capable of handling around 60 million passengers a year.