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On the horizon


Airport World takes a closer look at two very different new airports that are expected to be built over the next five years – Delhi Noida in India and Mirage in Saudi Arabia.

Delhi Noida International Airport

It may still be a few years away from becoming reality, but a second Delhi airport is now well and truly on the radar following Zurich Airport being named as the preferred bidder for the concession to design, build and operate India’s new Delhi Noida International Airport.

Subsidiary, Zurich Airport International Asia (ZAIA), submitted the highest bid for the 40-year concession to develop and manage Delhi Noida International Airport (DNIA), which will be located in Jewar in Uttar Pradesh, around 72 kilometres from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Expected to cost around €600 million, the greenfield airport is slated to open between 2023 and 2027 and will initially be equipped to handle 12 million passengers per annum.

However, an ambitious development plan includes proposals to raise its capacity to 30mppa by 2032 and 50mppa by 2037.

ZAIA CEO, Daniel Bircher, reveals that although Zurich Airport has received a letter announcing the award of the contract following the gaining of all the necessary security approvals, the actual concession agreement hasn’t yet been signed with Noida International Airport Limited (NIAL) because of the fall out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is something he expects to be put right shortly.

“It has been a difficult year, not helped by the COVID-related travel restrictions, but we are currently in discussion with the government about the date for signing the concession agreement,” says Bircher.

Indeed, ZAIA has been working on Delhi Noida International Airport’s master plan since January 2020 and is currently in the process of appointing architects and planners for the project.

He notes that ZAIA is also in advanced discussions with different financial institutions in a bid to secure all the funding for the project by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

While the Indian government and state of Uttar Pradesh have agreed compensation packages with landowners whose property has been acquired for the new airport and are finalising relocation and resettlement deals for families living on what will be the site of DNIA.

“We anticipate completing the pre-construction activities, including all the legal requirements required for the project to go-ahead, in the first half year of 2021 and expect construction to begin immediately afterwards,” enthuses ZAIA’s Bircher.

“We have noted the recent efforts of the Government of Uttar Pradesh to attract investors into the Greater Noida area. This is a very welcome move and will help to develop and grow the already emerging area known as the National Capital Region.

“The state of Uttar Pradesh is also planning to build a new elevated roadway between IGI Airport [Indira Gandhi International Airport] and DNIA, and the existing Delhi Metro system is to be extended to the new airport, so it will have fast and effective road connectivity and rail links.

“Despite the current challenges due to COVID-19, Zurich Airport is extremely motivated to develop this concession and invest in Uttar Pradesh and India.”

Bircher notes that Zurich Airport is no stranger to doing business in India having previously been part of the consortium that successfully built and operated Bengaluru’s own greenfield gateway, Kempegowda International Airport, before selling its stake in 2017.

“Our success in Bengaluru and elsewhere across the world, where we operate a total of nine airports, proves that we are more than qualified to take on the challenge of Delhi Noida International Airport,” states Bircher.

“Our aim is to develop and operate a portfolio of airports in Asia. Delhi Noida is part of this strategy and other Indian airports could follow in the future, when the time is right.”

Talking about the appeal of DNIA to Zurich Airport, chief financial officer, Lukas Brosi, comments: “Noida International Airport will be strategically located between Delhi and Agra, close to the fast-developing Noida and greater Noida area. If we look at large metropolitan areas worldwide, we find that second airports become viable once the primary airport reaches a certain hurdle in terms of passengers.

“We believe that Noida International Airport will complement and work in harmony with Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, and look forward to close collaboration with it in the future.”

Bircher adds that the importance of Delhi Noida working in tandem with Indira Gandhi International Airport cannot be underestimated and is why he believes that both airports should be treated equally by India’s aviation authorities when DNIA opens for business.

“Our understanding is that DNIA will be treated fairly and in the same way as IGI Airport and not as a less important airport, particularly when it comes to traffic rights and airspace management, as this will allow both to flourish and is the best way forward for the whole National Capital Region,” says Bircher.

Mirage Airport

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for a new airport to serve what has been described as a new “ultra-luxury destination” on its Red Sea coast.

The new destination is called AMAALA and the airport, which is slated for completion in 2023, will boast a design that that is said to have been inspired by a desert mirage.

The terminal and control tower design was conceptualised by UK-based architectural and design firm Foster + Partners, while the airport master plan was designed by Egis, an international consultancy and engineering group.

According to Egis, the new airport’s design is due for completion in 2023 and is being built to accommodate up to one million travellers per year.

AMAALA CEO, Nicholas Naples, says: “A gateway to AMAALA, visitors will be greeted by personalised experiences from the moment they step off the plane. From design to personalisation, this will be no ordinary airport.

“The airport will create an environment that embodies the philosophy of the destination beyond. This will be a unique space that personifies luxury and marks the start of memorable experiences for the world’s most discerning guests. We are delighted to work with Foster + Partners and Egis on this project.”

On its website, Egis states: “On approaching the airport, travellers will see stunning land art from the air. Entering the terminal, visitors will be greeted with a sleek mirrored edifice rising from the desert.

“The structure takes its inspiration from the surrounding environment, resulting in a mesmerising mirage effect.

“A spacious courtyard will anchor the terminal and will be complemented by contemporary interiors complete with unique artwork and tailored experiences.”

Among the list of amenities provided by the airport are climate-controlled hangars that will be available for private jets as well as a ground transfer service that is accessible from inside the arrival hangar.

Foster + Partners senior executive, Gerard Evenden, says: “Responding to the surrounding landscape, the terminal building will form an exclusive gateway to the AMAALA resort.

“The passenger experience through the entire building will be akin to a private members club – luxurious and relaxing. Focusing on the themes of art, wellbeing and sport, the design seeks to establish a new model for private terminals that provides a seamless experience from resort to aeroplane.”

While Egis’ aviation director for the Middle East and South Asia, Jacques Khoriaty, says: “Along with embodying the luxurious spirit of the resort, the AMAALA airport meets the highest environmental design and sustainability standards, is operationally versatile and incorporates the latest airport technology and best practice standards on offer.

“It has been a privilege to have worked closely with AMAALA to define the requirements of this unique project and we look forward continuing our support all the way through to the opening of the
airport in 2023.”

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