Greenfield private airport set for takeoff

PRATIM RANJAN BOSE ABHISHEK LAW Durgapur | Updated on January 24, 2018

Get set: The passengers’ terminal of the newly-built airport Kazi Nazrul Islam by Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited at Andal, near Durgapur, is ready to start domestic flight operations soon - ASHOKE CHAKRABARTY

Promoters bullish about Durgapur project, say it will attract low cost operators

This passenger terminal should put most of the smaller airports in the region to shame: it can accommodate 450 passengers boarding or alighting four airplanes, simultaneously; work is on in full swing to complete the four km access road from NH-2; and at the air traffic control (ATC), technicians are busy getting everything in order.

Welcome to India’s first greenfield private airport -- named after Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam -- at Andal, on the outskirts of Durgapur, that will start operations next month, exactly two years behind schedule. The project suffered time and cost overruns due to land acquisition problems.

Located nearly 180 kms from Kolkata, the ₹650 crore airport is a part of India’s first airport-city project promoted by Bengal Aerotropolis Pvt Ltd (BAPL) with Changi Airports of Singapore as lead partner. Total investments, including city side development, have already crossed ₹1000 crore.

Daily flights

“We are planning a big bang opening in April, with a host of scheduled and non-scheduled air services to different destinations,” Partha Ghosh, Managing Director of BAPL told BusinessLine.

He is bullish that cheaper refuelling (due to tax breaks offered by the West Bengal government), low parking charges, modern landing facilities, and large passenger base in the industrial and mining belt of West Bengal and Jharkhand, will attract low cost airline operators. Though Ghosh refuses to give details of the flight services, industry sources claim that the airport will offer daily connectivity to Delhi. Flight options to Hyderabad, Bangalore and Bagdogra (North Bengal) are also explored. Apart from regular operations, BAPL will also try to get the ‘diversion airport’ status.

Currently, Bhubaneswar is the only airport in the region, receiving flights diverted due to adverse weather conditions or other such unforeseen events. Having promoted the airport as low-cost destination, BAPL cannot expect to earn enough money from airliners as parking and landing fees.

The calculation was further upset by nearly 20-25 per cent cost escalation.

Equity infusion

While a fresh equity infusion of ₹90 crore, will help BAPL to avoid immediate pressure on finances; the profitability of the project clearly hinges on the city-side development.

Ghosh says, BAPL has planned a series of road shows with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore to step up city-side revenue. IE Singapore is the government agency that spearheads the overseas growth of Singapore-based companies.

The aim is to attract top real estate builders and industries in the country to set up shop at the airport city that has provisions for residential, commercial and industrial development, he says.

Ghosh is confident that the project will break even in two to three years.

Published on March 24, 2015

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