Delhi airport operator seeks US expansion


By Shaun Tandon

The operator of New Delhi’s revitalised airport says it hopes to enter the United States if the world’s largest economy moves to privatise its ageing network.

1New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, once notoriously cramped and lacking in amenities, expanded in 2010 by building the world’s eighth largest terminal, which sprawls for four square kilometres and has allowed a more than doubling of passenger traffic.

The terminal was built in 37 months — a major achievement in a country where infrastructure projects routinely are delayed for years — through a public-private partnership headed by the Bangalore-based GMR Group.

Indana Prabhakara Rao, chief executive officer of the Delhi airport, says the company is making known that it is interested in investment in the US, where virtually all airports are publicly owned.

“As and when airports come open for private participation, we are there to get into this,” Rao said on a recent visit to Washington where he was taking part in US-India aviation talks.

“We have expertise from end to end, from concept to commission, operation to maintenance,” he said. “We are a global player. We are not a domestic player anymore.”

GMR Group, in a consortium involving Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad, upgraded and operates Istanbul’s second largest airport, Sabiha Gokcen, and was bidding to expand the airport in Cebu, the second largest city and tourist gateway of the Philippines, before super typhoon Haiyan hit.

With its growing middle class, India forecasts it will become the world’s largest aviation market by 2020 after the US and China. More info