India’s first general aviation terminal for private jets — set to open at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport last month — has been ready for use for at least a month, but is still waiting for security approvals before it can become operational, according to three people familiar with the matter. The facility is designed to ensure faster turnaround of business jets and chartered planes, shielding them from the clutter of general passenger terminals, where they now compete for taxiing slots with commercial flights.
Two senior officers from the ministry of civil aviation confirmed that the facility was ready for use in terms of infrastructure and other facilities, but was awaiting some security clearances from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). A BCAS official said any development at any airport in India requires security approval from the BCAS. The official, however, did not comment on the approvals pending regarding the new general aviation terminal.
The terminal was built at a cost of Rs 150 crore over one-and-a-half years by Bird ExecuJet Airport Services Private Limited, a joint venture between Bird Group and ExecuJet Aviation Group, an international business aviation company based at Zurich Airport in Switzerland.
Before the national lockdown was imposed in March, around 1,300 scheduled flights operated from Delhi airport every day, apart from an additional 40-50 small non-scheduled chartered or private planes. “Though the new terminal will be commissioned as an interim facility it will be equipped with state-of-the-art features and facilities including world class passenger lounges, retail, food and beverage outlets etc., DIAL had said in a statement.
Private aircraft will still have to compete for take-off and landing slots with commercial flights, and another official from Delhi airport said that the new terminal will cut time. “Runway 29/11 — the largest in Delhi — is closer to the new terminal, and this will make taxiing time of these private aircraft significantly shorter,” he said, adding that the shorter distance between the terminal building and flight boarding point will also make the process of boarding quicker and less cumbersome.
Several VIPs and business travellers prefer to use private jets, and all their aircraft movements currently take place from Terminal 1, which was operating beyond capacity and undergoing expansion before the lockdown.