The National Capital Region (NCR) will get a new international airport in the next five years at Jewar, located in the Gautam Budh Nagar district, adjoining the national capital city of New Delhi.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi announced that the project — Noida International Airport — has received an "in-principle approval" and is expected to be developed in phases with the initial stage sporting one runway and a terminal building.
The new facility, expected to be spread across 3,000 hectares of land, will be the second international airport to serve the catchment areas of the NCR after the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
Distance-wise, the new airport will be located more than 77 km away from Connaught Circus, 72 km away from IGIA and 65 km from Hindon Air Force station in Ghaziabad. It will be connected to Delhi and Noida via metro rail and improved road network.
According to Raju, the approval or site clearance has been given for the first phase of the airport which is envisaged to be completed in 5-6 years.
"Noida International Airport will cater to 30-50 million passengers per year over the next 10-15 years," Raju said at a press briefing held at the Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan here which is the headquarters of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
The first phase of the project would require around 1,000 hectares of land and it is expected to ease the infrastructure pressure on the IGIA, the minister said.
The IGIA's passenger handling capacity will reach up to 91 MPPA (million passengers per annum) by 2020 and 109 MPPA by 2024 from the current level of 62 million.
Elaborating on the project, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said the first phase of the new airport project is expected to cost Rs 10,000 crore.
"Noida airport will be major growth driver for NCR and Western UP – will boost manufacturing, tourism, educational, and export sectors," Sinha said.
Sinha pointed out at the press briefing that industries such as electronics and pharma manufacturing will especially get a boost from the new airport.
As per the development plan, the Uttar Pradesh government will implement the project through the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA).
The YEIDA is expected to complete land acquisition and conduct a techno-economic feasibility study for the project within one year.
In April, Sinha had said that the new state government in Uttar Pradesh has asked for a fresh technical evaluation for setting up a green field airport at Jewar.
In 2001, the then UP chief minister Rajnath Singh proposed the idea of an airport located in Greater Noida. Later, governments including those of Mayawati, proposed that the project be set up in Jewar, near Greater Noida.
The last UP government scrapped the project, citing a clause that bars development of a second airport within a 150-km radius of an existing one. The IGIA is being developed and managed by a consortium led by GMR.
However, Raju said that the project which is expected to be developed on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, will provide the GMR-led consortium with the "First Right of Refusal" at the time of the bidding.
Aviation sector experts said that the move will benefit passengers.
"It (step) will probably prevent Delhi from going through the same hardship that Mumbai is going through due to the saturation of its existing airport," said Kuljit Singh, Head of Infrastructure at EY LLP India.
"However, this airport may also (just like Navi Mumbai Airport) have difficulty in generating sufficient bidder interest due to the pre-emption right available to the incumbent developer and in case government does not undertake key pre-development activities prior to putting the project to bid."
Amrit Pandurangi, independent aviation expert said: "From users' perspective its always good to have another airport. But for that to happen under the current agreement the government has to either convince GMR to take it up under the first right of refusal or have an airport with limited operations."
"Unlike Mumbai, Delhi airport still has plenty of land for expansion."