Indira Gandhi International Airport

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Indira Gandhi International Airport

Indira Gandhi International Airport (Hindi: इन्दिरा गाँधी अंतर्राष्ट्रीय हवाई अड्डा) (IATA: DEL, ICAO: VIDP) is the primary international airport of the National Capital Region of Delhi, India, situated in West Delhi, 16 km (10 mi) southwest of New Delhi city centre. Named after Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, it is the busiest airport in India in terms of daily flight traffic. With the commencement of operations at the new Terminal 3, Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport has become India's and South Asia's largest and one of the most important aviation hub, with a current capacity of handling more than 46 million passengers and aimed at handling more than 100 million passengers by 2030. Along with Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, it handles more than half of the air traffic in South Asia.

The airport serves as the primary civilian aviation hub for the National Capital Region of India. It was previously operated by the Indian Air Force until its management was transferred to the Airport Authority of India. In May 2006, the management of the airport was passed over to Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), a joint venture led by the GMR Group, which also has the responsibility for the airport's ongoing expansion and modernisation.

In 2010-11, the airport handled 29.94 million passengers annually and the planned expansion program will increase its capacity to handle 100 million passengers by 2030. The new Terminal 3 building has had the capacity to handle an additional 34 million passengers annually since the start of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Indira Gandhi's Terminal 3 is the world's eighth largest passenger terminal. In September 2008, the airport inaugurated a 4.43 kilometre-long runway. Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) was conferred the fourth best airport award in the world (in the 15–25 million category) and Best Improved Airport in the Asia-Pacific Region by Airport Council International.


The airport, earlier known as Palam Airport, was built around the World War II as RAF Station Palam and after the British left, it served as an Air Force Station for the Indian Air Force. Passenger operations were later shifted to the airport from Safdarjung Airport in 1962 due to an increase in traffic. Palam Airport had a peak capacity of around 1300 passengers per hour.

Owing to an increase in air traffic in the 1970s, an additional terminal with nearly four times the area of the old Palam terminal was constructed. With the inauguration of a new international terminal (Terminal 2), on 2 May 1986, the airport was renamed as Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport.

Public private partnership

On 31 Jan 2006, the aviation minister Praful Patel announced that the empowered Group of Ministers have agreed to hand over the management of Delhi Airport to the DIAL consortium and the Mumbai airport to the GVK-led consortium.

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 (50.1%), Fraport AG (10%) and Malaysia Airports (10%), India Development Fund (3.9%) and the Airports Authority of India retains a 26% stake.


The old Palam terminal is now known as Terminal 1 and handles all domestic flights. The terminal is divided into three separate terminals - 1A (for domestic flights of state owned Air India, MDLR and GoAir), 1B (was used by other domestic airlines, now closed and demolished), the Domestic Arrival Terminal (1C) and the newly-constructed 1D (now used by all remaining domestic airlines). There is also a separate Technical Area for VVIP passengers. Additionally there is a separate terminal for Hajj flights.

Owing to the booming Indian Aviation industry and the entry of numerous low-cost private carriers, the airport saw a huge jump in passenger traffic and has failed to cope with the demand. The capacity of Terminal 1 is estimated to be 7.15 million passengers per annum (mppa). However, the actual throughput for 2005/06 was an estimated 10.4 million passengers. Including the international terminal (Terminal 2), the airport has 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, total passenger count at the airport reached 23.97 million.

Delhi Airport has two parallel runways and a near-parallel runway: Runway 11/29 (14,534 ft (4430m)) with CAT IIIB ILS on both sides and the main runway 10/28 (12,500 ft (3,810 m)) as well as an auxiliary runway 09/27 (9,229 ft (2,813 m)). Runway 10/28 and Runway 11/29 are the only two in South Asia to have been equipped with the CAT III-B instrument landing system. 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 method of simultaneous takeoffs caused several near misses over west side of the airport where the centerlines of Runways 10/28 and 9/27 intersect. The runway use method was changed to seggregated dependent operations from 25th Dec 2007 which was a few days after the deciding near miss involving a Qatar airways Airbus A330-200 and an Indigo A320 aircraft. The new method involved use of Runway 28 for all departures and Runway 27 for all arrivals. This method which was safe and more reliable was followed till 24 September 2008.

On 21 August 2008, the airport inaugurated the 4.43 kilometre long runway 11/29. The runway has one of the world's longest paved threshold displacement of 1460m. This inturn decreases the available landing length on Runway 29 to 2970m. The purpose of this large threshold displacemnt is primarily to reduce noise generated by landing aircraft over nearby localities. The runway increases the airport's capacity to handle 85 flights from the previous 54-60 flights per hour. The new runway was opened for commercial operations on 25 September 2008.


IGI Airport is the home of several Indian airlines including Air India, Air India Regional, Indian Airlines, IndiGo, JetLite, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, GoAir use IGI Airport as their secondary hub. Approximately 80 airlines serve this airport. There are Six operational terminals making up this airport, they are the following:

Terminal 1 – Domestic

Terminal 1A was built in the early 1990s to cater to Indian Airlines domestic flights only. It had to be refurbished after a fire gutted the interiors. DIAL, the owner of the airport, has significantly upgraded this terminal. It now sports a new look with modern washrooms and facilities, however will be torn down on the completion of newer terminals which are expected to finish construction in the coming years. It was formerly used by Air India Regional until it moved to the new Terminal 3 on 11 November 2010. It is closed and now its domestic flights have been shifted to terminal 1D.

Terminal 1B has been closed for operations after the opening up of Terminal 1D which opened in April 2009.

The terminal in which all domestic operations arrive. The terminal is compact, however has received a new greeting area with expanded space, and a bigger luggage reclaim area.

Terminal 1D is the brand new interim domestic terminal, that was inaugurated on 26 February 2009. All domestic flights were moved to this new building from the second week of April, 2009. It is almost double the size of the older Terminal 1B. Terminal 1D has the capacity to handle 10 million passengers per year. Terminal 1D commenced operations on 15 April 2009. It is currently used by GoAir, IndiGo, SpiceJet.

Terminal 2

However, constructed in the 1980s, it was also in desperate need of repair. This sign of distress was taken care of before the inauguration of the Terminal 3. The entire terminal has been upgraded. It has been repainted; glass windows have replaced the old dark ones; floors have been refitted with tiles, walls and ceilings now have new surfaces, more immigration and emigration counters have been implemented, new seats have been brought in, new baggage belts, more business lounges, eateries, and duty free shops had also been added, which have now moved to the newer Terminal 3. Terminal 2 will work in tandem with T3, until the proposed T4 terminal is built, upon which it will be demolished as per the proposed master plan. The terminal is currently out of commission.

Terminal 3

Terminal 3, a state-of-the-art and integrated terminal, is the world’s eighth largest passenger terminal. It occupies 502,000 m² (5.4 million sq ft), with a capacity to handle 34 million passengers annually.

Designed by HOK working in consultation with Mott MacDonald, the new Terminal 3 is a two-tier building, with the bottom floor being the arrivals area, and the top being a departures area. This terminal has 168 check-in counters, 78 aerobridges at 48 contact stands, 30 parking bays, 72 immigration counters, 15 X-ray screening areas, for less waiting times, duty-free shops, and other features. Over 90% of passengers will use this terminal when completed. This new terminal had been completed in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which were held in Delhi, and will be connected to Delhi by an eight-lane motorway (National Highway 8), and the Delhi Mass Rapid Transit System. The terminal was officially inaugurated on 3 July 2010, and there were nine flights to test the operational readiness of the new terminal and its ground handling capabilities. All international airlines shifted their operations to the new terminal in late July 2010, and all full service domestic carriers mid November onwards.

T3 has India's first automated parking management & guidance system in a multi level car park, which comprises 7 levels and a capacity of 4300 cars. The Parking System is designed & installed by M/s FAAC India Pvt. Ltd in record time, in such a way that a person wishing to park can find space within 5 minutes with the help of an electronic dynamic signage.

Terminal 3 will form the first phase of the airport expansion in which a 'U' shaped building will be developed in a modular manner. In 2010, all international and full service domestic carriers started operating from Terminal 3, while Terminal 1 is dedicated to low cost operations. In subsequent stages, the low cost carriers will also move to the new terminal complex.

The much awaited go ahead for the domestic airlines to start operations from the new T3 terminal has been given. After passing many hurdles Air India which is also the national carrier started its domestic operations from the new T3 terminal from 11 November 2010. Two other airlines Jet and Kingfisher moved to the new terminal since 14 November 2010 for all their domestic operations. Terminal 1D is now used exclusively by low cost carrier airlines including GoAir.

Terminal 4 and 5

Terminal 4 and 5 will be built at a later stage, which will be triggered by growth in traffic, and once completed, all international flights will move to these two new terminals, while Terminal 3 will then solely be 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.

Hajj Terminal

Upon the annual Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj, specified flights move to this separate terminal to prevent disruption of other passengers who are traveling to other areas of the globe. A separate area has been made for Hajj to cater to the abundance of additional travelers during this season, and to accommodate them with enough provided space. It has a 10 million passengers per year capacity. It is used from October to December. Plans are underway to use the building for the remaining 10 months of the year also.

Cargo Terminal

The Cargo Terminal is managed by Celebi Delhi Cargo Terminal Management India Pvt. Ltd. and handles all cargo operations. The airport received an award in 2007 for its excellent and organized cargo handling system. It is located at a distance of about 1 km from the main terminal T3.

Airlines and destinations
Cargo services

^1 - Martinair Cargo use KLM 747s on lease in full KL livery, the service however is MP's own and not KLM.

Ground transportation

The airport is served by the Delhi Airport Metro Express train line. The 22.7 km line runs from Terminal 3 to New Delhi station of the Delhi Metro.

The airport is connected by the 8-lane Delhi Gurgaon Expressway. Low floor AC buses operated by DTC regularly run between the airport and the city. Prepaid taxis are also available from the terminal to all areas of Delhi.

Fixed base operators (FBO)
  • Ambassador's SkyChef
  • Chef Air
  • Taj-Sats
  • Oberoi Flight Services
  • Sky Gourmet Catering Pvt Ltd
  • club one air
  • Bharat Petroleum
  • Hindustan Petroleum
  • Indian Oil Corporation
Ground handlers
  • Celebi Ground Handling Delhi Pvt. Ltd.
  • Cambata Aviation
  • BWFS
Incidents and accidents
Major incidents
  • On 25 January 1970, a Royal Nepal Airlines Fokker F27-200 (9N-AAR) after a flight from Kathmandu, Nepal was caught in severe thunderstorms with turbulence and downdrafts on final approach to Palam Airport. The pilot could not control the aircraft and crashed short of the runway. Of the five crew and 18 passengers, one crew member was killed.
  • 14 June 1974, 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.
  • On 7 May 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's 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 exhaustion gasses caused a fire on the left wing. There were no fatalities but the aircraft was damaged beyond repair and written off.
  • On 12 November 1996, the airport was involved in the Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision when a Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747-100B, climbing out after takeoff, collided with an incoming Air Kazakhstan Ilyushin Il-76 chartered by a fashion company, causing the deaths of all 349 people aboard the two planes.

Building Activity

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