Airport sets trend
Hyderabad, Feb 11: The Rajiv Gandhi international airport at Shamshabad is the best in its class with the world’s best brains in airport design and passenger services joining together to execute the first-ever greenfield airport under public-private partnership in the country. “The new Hyderabad airport has several firsts to its credit. We have put together the best international companies to work with us to complete the project eight months ahead of the schedule and give passengers the best of world class services,” said GM Rao, chairman of GMR Group, which executed the mega airport project in the otherwise sleepy village of Shamshabad in the backward Ranga Reddy district 30 km from here.
In an exclusive interview to this newspaper on Monday on the eve of the calibration tests at the new airport, Mr Rao elaborated that Rajiv Gandhi international airport at Shamshabad is the first airport in India to go for LEED Certificate for incorporating green design elements. It is a non-polluting airport and passengers will have fresh air to breathe. “It is also the first airport to have integrated terminal Authorities believe that those who want to build Greenfield airports in the PPP mode would surely study Shamshabad, which has incorporated global best practices, as the most successful model.
“Passengers can enter the airport from the national highway No. 7 and from Srisailam highway,” said Mr Rao, who was happy that the rain god blessed his mega venture immediately after the puja ahead of the calibration tests. The airport has the best brains working in all its sectors. “The cargo operation will be handled by Menzies, the business hotel by Accor with Novotel brand and flight catering by LSG Sky Chef and Sky Gourmet,” said Mr Rao. The fuel farm operation and maintenance would be undertaken by Reliance Industries, duty free and retail by Nuance and Shoppers Stop, parking by Tenaga and airport lounges by Plaza Premium of Hong Kong.
“Our business philosophy is to work with the best international companies,” he said. “We have chosen them through a transparent selection process.” The airport medical centre will be manned by Apollo Hospitals and pilots will be trained by the Sabena Flight Academy while the maintenance contract has been given to Faber Malaysia. Even the house-keeping has been handed over to Sinar Jernih of Malaysia and ISS Integrated Services of Singapore. The bookstores will be run by Landmark and Odyssey.
Mr Rao said GHIAL had got the help of renowned aviation and construction experts including Prof. Rigas Doganis, fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Prof. Amadeu Odoni of MIT and Prof. John Kasarda from North Carolina University. “We got the help of experts who designed Oslo and Hong Kong airport,” said Mr Rao. “The works of the passenger terminal building was taken up by China State Engineering Construction (Hong Kong) Limited.”
Mr Rao said a team had visited Bangkok to study how the existing airport there was converted to a greenfield one. “Since we know the problems which Bangkok faced, we have made our strategies accordingly,” he said. “The shifting from Begumpet to Shamshabad on March 16 will be a smooth affair. We will be running 120 special buses to several points in the city. The fare will be just Rs 95.” By all counts, the Begumpet airport would close down after March 16, though there are demands from some quarters that it be kept open.