One runway of the Noida international airport will be built during the first phase of construction and around 90 per cent of the air traffic in the initial years will be domestic only, said a top official of Zurich Airport International on Wednesday.
Officials of the Uttar Pradesh government and Zurich Airport International signed a concession agreement on Wednesday to begin the construction of the Noida airport in Jewar on the outskirts of Delhi.
“We will obviously work with the local construction partners to build it (Noida airport) but we will be the main investor at the moment,” Daniel Bircher, Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Airport International (Asia) told PTI in an interview.
He said the company might get another financial investor at a later stage to develop the airport further.
“As a strategic objective, we are looking at building a platform of airports in India in the mid-term. So, it could be that we will join hands with a financial investor in a later stage to make this platform (Noida airport) grow. At this stage of the development phase (of Noida airport), we will do it ourselves,” he added.
Zurich Airport International currently holds 100 per cent shareholding in the Noida airport project.
It had outbid the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), Adani Enterprises and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings Limited to win the 40-year concession for the Noida airport. The GMR group-led DIAL operates the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in Delhi.
“What we know today is that the Delhi airport (IGIA) has natural limitations in the peak hours, so the airlines that want to operate during the peak hours will find ways to operate. So, there will be a shift of these airlines,” Bircher noted.
“So, will the same airline also use the airport to do international flights? That is up to the airline to decide. I do not see this (Noida) airport to be the competition to the international traffic at the existing airport (IGIA). That will not change for some time,” he said.
When asked if the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed its air traffic projections at the Noida airport, Bircher said,” Today, there is an impact (due to the pandemic) but we are very confident that India with such a large domestic market…will very strongly rebound as we have seen in 2011-12.”
In the last 5-6 years, a growth rate of 20 per cent plus has been observed for some airports in India so any substantial changes in traffic projections are not seen, he added.
When it won the bid on November 29 last year to build and operate the Noida airport, the Swiss company had said the airport will be able to handle 12 million passengers per annum after the first phase of construction.
Bircher told the PTI, “Domestic travel, I have no doubt, will rebound very quickly. Since, we are going to have 90 per cent domestic traffic in the initial years…I think that our assumption still holds true.”
When asked if the government has informed the company by when the construction of metro — connecting the airport with the wider Delhi region — will happen, he replied, “Our understanding is that the planning has been completed and the government is looking at starting the execution soon to bring it to the airport by the time we start operating.”
The Noida airport site is around 70 km from the main Delhi region.
He said the company has a total of three and half years to build the Noida airport.
“We have three and half years, so we have six months to do financial closure, and the concession starts then and we have three years to build the airport,” Bircher mentioned.
He said they were working hard now in the planning stage.
“We are looking at Rs 4,500 crore of investment for the first phase. This is in an area of 1,334 hectares of land that has been given to be developed. This includes one runway, apron space, this includes 12 boarding bridges for the terminal, and it also includes cargo catering space,” he said.
He said that in the planning stage, they were focusing on digitisation so as to give contactless services to passengers.
“We are focusing on short connecting times….We want to make it easier for the passenger to connect (for the other flight) and also for the airline to reduce the time the aircraft is on ground so that reduces the cost for the airline,” Bircher said.
Yamuna International Airport Private Limited (YIAPL) is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Zurich Airport International ?which has been incorporated to develop the greenfield Noida airport in Jewar.
The YIAPL will implement the public private partnership (PPP) for the Noida airport project together with the Uttar Pradesh government, New Delhi Okhla Industrial Development Authority and Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority.
Bircher said, “We see a good potential in developing this airport into a logistics hub with all the adjacent logistics development and planned projects. It also includes 74 hectares of cityside area that can be developed.”
“This we will take in a phase-wise approach, initially most likely a hotel and the rest we are still studying. This includes also a metro station on our land,” he added.
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