A Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt was to land past midnight on March 15 and mark the commercial launch, as scheduled, of the new international airport in Hyderabad. That did not happen and now it is not certain when the actual commercial operations will begin. This is despite the airport being officially inaugurated by Congress President Sonia Gandhi on March 14. All that airport developer, the GMR Group, is willing to share at the moment is: “The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) is ready in all aspects.”BT, however, learns that some airlines have approached the Ministry of Civil Aviation, seeking more time to begin operations from RGIA. The ministry has acceded to their request. Apparently, there are concerns on the new service fees, especially in relation to ground-handling charges; the lowcost airlines are opposed to the high charges. Then, there is the issue of road connectivity with some against any closure of the existing airport as not all the crucial road links to the new airport, about 25 km from Begumpet (within the city and where the existing airport is located), are fully ready. Perhaps, with an ecosystem that does not facilitate all-inclusive infrastructure building and planning, it is time to redefine the benefits of timely completion of projects if they are to end up as pockets of excellence.
For at the moment, at least, even with the project completed on time, each non-operational day is translating into a daily loss of around Rs 1.5 crore for the new airport built at a cost of close to Rs 2,500 crore.
— E. Kumar Sharma