Indira Gandhi International Airport (IATA: DEL, ICAO: VIDP) is the primary international airport serving Delhi, India. The airport, spread over an area of 5,106 acres (2,066 ha), is situated in Palam, Delhi, 15 km (9.3 mi) south-west of the New Delhi Railway Station and 16 km (9.9 mi) from New Delhi city centre. Named after Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, it is the busiest airport of India in terms of passenger traffic since 2009. It is also the busiest airport in the country in terms of cargo traffic, overtaking Mumbai during late 2015. As of now, it is the 17th busiest airport in the world and 6th busiest airport in Asia by passenger traffic handling nearly 70 million passengers. It is the world's busiest airport for Airbus A320 flights. The under construction expansion program will increase the airport's capacity to handle 100 million passengers by 2030.
Indira Gandhi International Airport
|Owner/Operator||Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL)|
|Serves||Delhi / NCR|
|Location||Palam, Delhi, 110037, India|
|Focus city for||FedEx Express|
|Elevation AMSL||237 m / 777 ft|
The airport was operated by the Indian Air Force before its management was transferred to the Airports Authority of India. In May 2006, the management of the airport was passed over to Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), a consortium led by the GMR Group. In September 2008, the airport inaugurated a 4,430 m (14,530 ft) runway. With the commencement of operations at Terminal 3 in 2010, it became India's and South Asia's largest aviation hub. The Terminal 3 building has a capacity to handle 34 million passengers annually and was the world's 8th largest passenger terminal upon completion. The airport uses an advanced system called Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) to help keep takeoffs and landings timely and predictable.
In 2010, IGIA was conferred the fourth best airport award in the world in the 15–25 million category, and Most Improved Airport in the Asia-Pacific Region by Airports Council International. The airport was rated as the Best Airport in the world in the 25–40 million passengers category in 2015, by Airports Council International. Delhi Airport was awarded The Best Airport in Central Asia and Best Airport Staff in Central Asia at the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2015. IGI also stood first in the new rankings for 2015 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards conducted by Airports Council International. The airport, along with Mumbai Airport was adjudged "World's Best Airport" at Airport Service Quality Awards 2017 in the highest category of airports handling more than 40 million passengers annually. In the financial year of 2020, the IGI Airport handled 67.3 million passengers.
The other airport serving Delhi NCR is Hindon Airport which is much smaller in size and primarily handles regional flights out of the city under the government's UDAN. Safdarjung Airport is used mainly by VVIP helicopters and small charter helicopters due to its short runway. Jewar Airport is being planned to offset the load of Indira Gandhi International Airport. The airport is awarded as the best airport in Asia-Pacific in 2020 (over 40 million passengers per annum) by Airports Council International.
Some international airports, including Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, won the special 2021 COVID-19 Airport Excellence Awards for properly enforcing COVID-19 guidelines, including face mask usage, visibility and availability of hand sanitiser, social distancing, hygiene procedures at security, social distancing at security/immigration, terminal cleanliness, and washroom cleanliness.
Safdarjung Airport was built in 1930 and was the main airport for Delhi until 1962. Due to increasing passenger traffic at Safdarjung, civilian operations were moved to Palam Airport (later renamed to IGIA) in 1962. Palam Airport had been built during World War II as RAF Station Palam and after the British left, it served as an Air Force Station for the Indian Air Force.
- No. 31 Squadron RAF
- No. 34 Squadron RAF
- No. 62 Squadron RAF
- No. 76 Squadron RAF
- No. 194 Squadron RAF
- No. 232 Squadron RAF
- No. 353 Squadron RAF
- No. 681 Squadron RAF
- Air Headquarters India Communication Squadron RAF
- Base Air Forces, Southeast Asia Communication Squadron RAF
- Supreme Commander's Headquarters (Air) Communication Squadron RAF
Palam Airport had a peak capacity of around 1,300 passengers per hour. In 1979–80, a total of 3 million domestic and international passengers flew into and out of Palam Airport. Owing to an increase in air traffic in the 70s and the 80's, an additional terminal with nearly four times the area of the old Palam terminal was constructed. With the inauguration of this new international terminal, Terminal 2, on 2 May 1986, the airport was renamed as Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
The old domestic airport (Palam) is known as Terminal 1 and was divided into separate buildings - 1A, 1B, and 1C. Blocks 1A and 1B were used to handle international operations while domestic operations took place in 1C. Today, Block 1A became a dedicated terminal for domestic Air India, which is now demolished. Block 1B was used as a departures terminal by all other domestic airlines, which is also demolished. Block 1C was turned into a domestic arrivals terminal, and the newly constructed domestic departures block 1D is now used by all domestic low-cost airlines (GoAir, IndiGo, and SpiceJet). There is also a separate technical area for VIP passengers.
The Delhi airport gained a nonstop flight to North America in October 2001, when an Airbus A340 belonging to Canada 3000 touched down from Toronto. Even though the 11 September attacks had precipitated a global decline in air travel, Canada 3000 proceeded with launching the route, hoping it would help improve the airline's financial position. The opening of Russian airspace after the Cold War allowed pilots to fly over the Arctic, thereby reducing the flight duration. Nevertheless, Canada 3000 collapsed just one month after the service began.
Significant growth in the Indian aviation industry led to a major increase in passenger traffic. The capacity of Terminal 1 was estimated to be 7.15 a million passengers per annum (mppa). The actual throughput for 2005/06 was an estimated 10.4 a million passengers. Including the closed down international terminal (Terminal 2), the airport had a total capacity of 12.5 million passengers per year, whereas the total passenger traffic in 2006/07 was 16.5 million passengers per year. In 2008, the total passenger count at the airport reached 23.97 million. To ease the traffic congestion on the existing terminals, a much larger Terminal 3 was constructed and inaugurated on 3 July 2010. The new terminal's construction took 37 months for completion and this terminal increased airport's total passenger capacity by 34 million. Apart from the three budget domestic airlines handled by Terminals 1C-1D, all other airlines operate their flights from Terminal 3.
On 31 January 2006, the aviation minister Praful Patel announced that the empowered Group of Ministers have agreed to sell the management-rights of Delhi Airport to the DIAL consortium and the Mumbai airport to the GVK Group. On 2 May 2006, the management of Delhi and Mumbai airports were handed over to the private consortia. Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) is a consortium of the GMR Group (54%), Fraport (10%) and Malaysia Airports (10%), and the Airports Authority of India retains a 26% stake.
Nine years later, in May 2015, Malaysia Airports chose to exit from DIAL venture and sold its entire 10% stake to majority shareholder GMR Infra for $79 million. Following this GMR Group's stake at DIAL increased to 64%. Earlier GMR indicated that it was interested in buying out the 10% stake of Fraport.
|Runway Number||Length||Width||Approach Lights/ILS|
|11/29||4,430 m (14,530 ft)||60 m (200 ft)||CAT III-B / CAT III-B|
|10/28||3,810 m (12,500 ft)||46 m (151 ft)||CAT I / CAT III-B|
|09/27||2,813 m (9,229 ft)||45 m (148 ft)||CAT I / CAT I|
Delhi Airport has three near-parallel runways: runway 11/29, 4,430 m × 60 m (14,530 ft × 200 ft) with CAT IIIB instrument landing system (ILS) on both sides, runway 10/28, 3,810 m × 46 m (12,500 ft × 151 ft), and runway 09/27, 2,813 m × 45 m (9,229 ft × 148 ft). The 09/27 runway of the Delhi airport was the airport's first-ever runway, the British constructed the 2,816 metre-long and 60 metre-wide runway in the pre-independence era and used it during World War II. In addition to Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport in Lucknow and Jaipur Airport in Jaipur, Delhi Airport is the only airport in India to have been equipped with the CAT III-B ILS. In the winter of 2005, there were a record number of disruptions at Delhi Airport due to fog/smog. Since then some domestic airlines have trained their pilots to operate under CAT-II conditions of a minimum 350 m (1,150 ft) visibility. On 31 March 2006, IGI became the first Indian airport to operate two runways simultaneously following a test run involving a SpiceJet plane landing on runway 28 and a Jet Airways plane taking off from runway 27 at the same time.
The initially proposed mode involving simultaneous takeoffs in westerly flow to increase handling traffic capacity caused several near misses over the west side of the airport where the centrelines of runways 10/28 and 9/27 intersect. The runway use was changed to segregate dependent mode on 25 December 2007, which was a few days after the deciding near miss involving an Airbus A330-200 of Qatar Airways and an Indigo A320 aircraft. The new method involved the use of runway 28 for all departures and runway 27 for all arrivals. This more streamlined model was adopted during day hours (– 2300 0600 – 2300 IST) until 24 September 2008.
On 21 August 2008, the airport inaugurated its third runway, 11/29, costing ₹10 billion and 4,430 m (14,534 ft) long. The runway has one of the world's longest paved threshold displacements of 1,460 m (4,790 ft). This, in turn decreases the available landing length on runway 29 to 2,970 m (9,744 ft). The purpose of this large threshold displacement is to reduce noise generated by landing aircraft over nearby localities. The runway increases the airport's capacity to handle up to 100 flights from the previous 45–60 flights per hour. The new runway was opened for commercial operations on 25 September 2008 and gradually began full round-the-clock operations by the end of October the same year.
Since mid-2012, all three runways are operated simultaneously to handle traffic during day hours. Only runways 11/29 and 10/28 are operated during night (2300–0600 IST) hours with single runway landing restriction during westerly traffic flow that is rotated late night (0300 IST) and reversed weekly to distribute and mitigate night time landing noise over nearby residential areas.
To cater for the demand of increasing air traffic, the master plan for the construction of a fourth parallel runway next to the existing runway 11/29 has been cleared.
IGI Airport serves as a major hub or a focus destination for several Indian carriers including Air India, Air India Regional, IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir, and Vistara. Approximately 80 airlines serve this airport. At present, there are three active scheduled passenger terminals, a dedicated Hajj terminal, and a cargo terminal.
Recently, Delhi airport operator DIAL has introduced an e-boarding facility for passengers at all the three terminals of the airport, by which all boarding gates will have contactless e-boarding gates with boarding card scanners, which will allow passengers to flash their physical or e-boarding cards to verify flight details in order to proceed for security checks.
Domestic and international operationsEdit
Terminal 3 is used for international flights. The Indian carriers operating international flights are Air India, Indigo, SpiceJet, GoAir, and Vistara.
As far as domestic operations are concerned, Terminal 3 is used by Air India, AirAsia, and Vistara.
GoAir and Indigo use Terminal 2, while SpiceJet uses Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 (temporarily) for their domestic operations.
Terminal 1 is currently used temporarily by the low cost carrier SpiceJet. DIAL is working to expand Terminal 1 and enhance its annual passenger handling capacity from the current 18 million to 30 million within two years by 2022.
Terminal 1A was built in the late 1980s to cater to Indian Airlines (now Air India). It had to be refurbished after a fire gutted the interiors and DIAL significantly upgraded the terminal. It was used by Air India for its Airbus operations until it shifted to the new Terminal 3 on 11 November 2010. The terminal is now closed and is expected to be torn down on the completion of newer terminals.
Terminal 1B was also built in the late 1980s and was used only for domestic departures. Upon the opening of the new domestic departures Terminal 1D in 2009, Terminal 1B got closed and is also expected to be torn down on the completion of newer terminals.
Terminal 1C was also built in the late 1980s and is used only for domestic arrivals. The terminal has been upgraded with a newly expanded greeting area and a larger luggage reclaim area with eight belts.
Terminal 1D is the newly built domestic departures terminal with a total floor space of 53,000 m2 (570,000 sq ft) and has a capacity to handle 15 million passengers per year. Terminal 1D commenced operations on 19 April 2009. It has 72 Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) enabled check-in counters, 16 self check-in counters, and 16 security channels.
Terminal 2 was opened on 1 May 1986, at a cost of ₹950 million and was used for international flights until July 2010 when operations shifted to Terminal 3. After this, the terminal remained operational for only three months per year catering to Hajj flights. In 2017, after revamping Terminal 2 at a cost of ₹1 billion, DIAL shifted operations of GoAir to the terminal from 29 October in order to continue expansion work of Terminal 1. Now, GoAir along with Indigo operates its daily flights from this terminal.
Designed by HOK working in consultation with Mott MacDonald, the new Terminal 3 is a two-tier building spread over an area of 20 acres (8.1 ha), with the lower floor being the arrivals area, and the upper floor being a departures area. This terminal has 168 check-in counters, 78 aerobridges at 48 contact stands, 54 parking bays, 95 immigration counters, 15 X-ray screening areas, shorter waiting times, duty-free shops, and other features. This new terminal was timed to be completed for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which was held in Delhi and is connected to Delhi by an eight-lane Delhi Gurgaon Expressway and the Delhi Metro. The terminal was officially inaugurated on 3 July 2010. All international airlines shifted their operations to the new terminal in late July 2010 and all full service domestic carriers in November 2010. The arrival area is equipped with 14 baggage carousels. T3 has India's first automated parking management and guidance system in a multi level car park, which comprises seven levels and a capacity of 4,300 cars. Terminal 3 forms the first phase of the airport expansion which tentatively includes the construction of additional passenger & cargo terminals (Terminal 4, 5, and 6).
Domestic full-service airlines operate from Terminal 3 including Air India, the national carrier. The Tata & Singapore Airlines airline joint-venture Vistara also operates from Terminal 3. AirAsia India, although a low cost airline, also operates its domestic flights from this terminal.
General Aviation TerminalEdit
The general aviation terminal caters to support the movement and processing of passengers flying through chartered flights from the airport. This terminal was commissioned in September 2020.
The air cargo complex is located at a distance of 1 km (0.62 mi) from Terminal 3. It consists of separate brownfield and greenfield cargo terminals. The cargo operations at the brownfield terminal are managed by Celebi Delhi Cargo Management India Pvt. Ltd., which is a joint venture between Delhi International Airport Private Ltd (DIAL) and the Turkish company Celebi Ground Handling (CGH). CGH was awarded the contract to develop, modernise, and finance the existing cargo terminal and to operate the terminal for a period of twenty-five years by DIAL in November 2009. It started its operations in June 2010. In addition to the existing terminal, a new greenfield terminal is being developed in phases by Delhi Cargo Service Centre (DCSC), also a joint venture between DIAL and Cargo Service Center (CSC). The Greenfield cargo terminal project consists of two terminals built over a plot of 48,000 square metres and 28,500 square metres respectively. Phase-1A of the project has been completed and is fully operational. Once the entire project is completed, these two new terminals will have an annual handling capacity of 1.25 million tonnes. The cargo operations of the airport received "e-Asia 2007" award in 2007 for "Implementation of e-Commerce / Electronic Data Interchange in Air Cargo Sector".
Airlines and destinationsEdit
The nearest railway station is the Palam railway station, located 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) and 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from Terminals 1 and 3 respectively. Several passenger trains run regularly between these stations. Shahabad Mohammadpur railway station is equally close.
Terminals 2 and 3 of the airport are served by the IGI Airport metro station on Delhi Airport Metro Express line. The 22.7 km (14.1 mi) line runs from Dwarka Sector 21 to the New Delhi metro station with trains running every 10 minutes. Terminal 1 is served by the Terminal 1-IGI Airport metro station on the Magenta Line.
The airport is connected by the 8-lane Delhi–Gurgaon Expressway, the busiest inter-city route in India. Air conditioned low-floor buses operated by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) regularly run between the airport and the city. Metered taxis are also available from Terminals 1 and 3 to all areas of Delhi.
Terminals 4, 5, and 6 will be built at a later stage, which will be triggered by growth in traffic. Once completed, all international flights will move to these three new terminals. Terminal 3 will then be solely used for handling domestic air traffic. A new cargo handling building is also planned. According to Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), these new terminals will increase the airport's annual passenger volume capacity to 100 million.
DIAL submitted a plan in 2016 to the then aviation secretary R N Choubey regarding the expansion of the airport with a new fourth runway and Terminal 4 in a phased manner. The Master Plan of Airport in 2016 was then reviewed and updated by DIAL in consultation with the Airports Authority of India. The terminal construction will start after the fourth runway is completed and expansion of Terminals 1 and 3.
Accidents and incidentsEdit
- 1970: The pilot of a Royal Nepal Airlines Fokker F27-200 (9N-AAR) lost control due to severe thunderstorms and downdrafts, crashing just short of the runway. The plane was landing after a flight from Kathmandu, Nepal. Of the five crew and 18 passengers, one crew member was killed.
- 1972: Japan Airlines Flight 471 crashed outside of Palam Airport, killing 82 of 87 occupants; ten of eleven crew members and 72 of 76 passengers died, as did three people on the ground.
- 1973: Indian Airlines Flight 440 crashed while on approach to Palam Airport, killing 48 of the 65 passengers and crew on board.
- 1990: An Air India Boeing 747 flying on the London-Delhi-Mumbai route and carrying 215 people (195 passengers and 20 crew) touched down at Indira Gandhi International Airport after a flight from London Heathrow Airport. On application of reverse thrust, a failure of the no. 1 engine pylon to wing attachment caused this engine to tilt nose down. Hot exhaust gases caused a fire on the left-wing. There were no casualties but the aircraft was damaged beyond repair and written off.
- 1993: An Uzbekistan Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 that had been leased by Indian Airlines due to an ongoing pilot strike flipped over and caught fire while landing in bad weather. There were no fatalities, but the aircraft was destroyed by a post-crash fire.
- 1994: A Sahara Airlines Boeing 737-2R4C (registered VT-SIA) crashed while performing a training flight killing all four people on board and one person on the ground. Wreckage struck an Aeroflot Ilyushin-86 (registered RA-86119) parked nearby, killing four people inside.
- 1995: Indian Airlines Flight 492 (IC 492), A Boeing 737-2A8 (Registered VT-ECS), damaged beyond repair when the aircraft overshot the runway at Delhi airport due to pilots error, on its scheduled flight from Jaipur to Delhi.
- 1996: The airport was involved in the Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision when a Saudia Boeing 747-100B, climbing out after take-off, collided with an incoming Kazakhstan Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 chartered by a fashion company, causing the deaths of all 349 people on board the two planes.
- In December 1999, Flight IC814 bound for Delhi was hijacked. The plane was taken to Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UAE. After the turn of the millennium, the plane was allowed to go back to Delhi. One passenger was killed.
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This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.
Media related to Indira Gandhi International Airport at Wikimedia Commons