Zurich Airports eyes ‘airport portfolio’ in India

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on December 18, 2020

Daniel Bircher, Chairman and Managing Director, Yamuna International Airport Pvt Ltd (YIAPL)

Company sees 200-million market in Delhi-NCR; reaching out to stakeholders for new Jewar airport

Zurich Airport International’s strategic objective is having an ‘airport portfolio’ in India, Daniel Bircher, Chairman and Managing Director, Yamuna International Airport Pvt Ltd (YIAPL), told BusinessLine in an exclusive interaction.

YIAPL is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Zurich Airport International AG, incorporated as a special purpose vehicle to develop the greenfield Delhi Noida International Airport in Jewar, on the outskirts of the capital.

“How many airports it has to be I cannot tell you. We will actually be looking at new opportunities coming to the market,” Bircher said when asked whether Zurich Airport plans to take up any of the 100 airports that the government is planning to develop.

Officials said the Uttar Pradesh government’s plan to develop new airports in the State, including some that will also cater to international traffic, is not a concern for Jewar airport. Bircher said that if one looks at the entire catchment area of Delhi-NCR there is an over 200 million market to tap over the course of the 40-year concession agreement that YIAPL has signed with the State government.

“We anticipate air traffic growth in India to continue strongly post Covid as it has been in the past 10-to-20 years,” Christoph Schnellmann, Chief Executive Officer, YIAPL, added.

Touchless experience

The upcoming airport is looking to see how it can make the passenger experience ‘touchless’, from the curb side to the aircraft. “The Covid crisis has clearly shown airlines and airports that they need to take the airport process out of the airport and put it in the hands of the passengers — to use their phones and biometric technology for self-service devices to travel through the airport,” Bircher said.

“One of the consequences certainly is that that there will be an increase in self-service options to empower people to check in when and where they choose with fewer physical interactions,” he added.

The Jewar airport, which opens in 2024, has started reaching out to stakeholders such as airlines and ground handlers to engage them in the process of designing the airport, apart from IT industry partners.

The airport plans to be able to offer airlines and its passengers a connection between two domestic flights in 30-35 minutes and from a domestic flight to an international flight in 45-60 minutes. “The idea is that the passenger should have to walk the minimum distance to connect from one flight to the other,” officials said.

Published on December 10, 2020

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