Navi Mumbai international airport's commercial launch expected in Dec 2024

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  • 28/12/2023
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Navi Mumbai international airport's commercial launch expected in Dec 2024

Source: Rediff

The outer structure of Navi Mumbai International Airport’s first terminal building is almost ready.

Exactly behind the under-construction building, stands a partially demolished hill.

Executives from the airport company are now hopeful the hill will be flattened by mid-January, paving the way for the first commercial take-off by December next year.

“We are ahead of schedule on the airfield, what is left is a small hill,” a spokesperson for Navi Mumbai International Airport Ltd (NMIAL) said, adding that the airfield, which consists of a runway, taxiway, apron and others, is 60 per cent complete and the runway is at 70 per cent.

The hill was to be demolished in a joint effort by MIAL, which is the concessionaire and Cidco (City and Industrial Development Corporation) for Navi Mumbai, which is the nodal authority for the project.

“What is left is Cidco’s part of the demolition.

"We have worked around the earlier delays of the demolition and should be able to meet timelines,” said the spokesperson, who is hopeful the demolition would be completed by mid-January.

NMIAL is a jointly owned subsidiary with MIAL holding 74 per cent and the rest by Cidco.

MIAL is Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), which in turn is a jointly owned subsidiary of Adani Airport Holding Limited and Airport Authority of India (AAI.) Aviation consultancy firm Capa India in November said the airport is facing delays and is likely to commence commercial operations in 2025 instead of 2024.

Spokespeople from NMIAL remain confident of meeting the December 2024 timeline to start commercial operations from this new airport, which is to cater to 20 million passengers in the initial phase.

“I see no challenge to the timelines, provided there is no other pandemic-like situation,” a spokesperson added.

Even as the airport executives await the full demolition of the hill, work on other aspects has been set into motion.

“We are already in talks with airlines to start operations from this airport,” the spokesperson said, “These are positive discussions with some asking us to start work on the second phase as well,” the spokesperson said.

NMIAL is spending close to Rs 17,000 crore in getting the initial phase ready.

The company is expected to start work on financial closure for the next phase only post-completion of the first.

“Once a phase is complete, the project risk is out and funding costs lower,” the spokesperson added.

There is another missing piece in the commencement of the airport’s operations – connectivity.

The Mumbai Trans-harbour link, which connects the island city of Mumbai to the satellite city of Navi Mumbai, is expected to start operations next month.

However, work on the Ulwe Coastal Road connecting MTHL further to the Navi Mumbai Airport is yet to commence.

Spokespeople for the airport company clarified that delays in such infra projects will not hamper connectivity, but said it will not be “ideal.”

The Navi Mumbai Airport was first conceptualised to decongest Mumbai’s sole international airport, where capacity is expected to peak at 60 million passengers in the next few years with a mix of international and domestic operations.

Of the 20 million capacity in the initial phase, Navi airport is expected to fly 12 million passengers in the first year of operations.

“The airport will be ready for DGCA inspections from September onwards and aims to start in the winter schedule of 2024,” the spokesperson said.

The second terminal of the Mumbai International Airport was opened to passengers in 2014 and stands out for its peacock-themed interiors, a vast collection of art on display and a crunch for aircraft parking space.

Often spoken of as a second airport for Mumbai, the under-construction Navi airport may offer certain dissimilarities – a lotus-themed interior, more space for private jets, a higher fee for parking for fossil-fuel-based vehicles and the lack of expensive artefacts.

“We are a hardcore infrastructure company.

"We are exploring digital art for the airport,” the spokesperson concluded.

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