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Delhi airport to become global air traffic hub

Last updated on: August 23, 2012 10:16 IST

Delhi airport to become global air traffic hub

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Surajeet Das Gupta in New Delhi

Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) is taking baby steps towards becoming an international airline hub.

And, the government is supporting the move to make the capital city a hub that goes beyond picking up transit traffic from neighbouring countries.

As part of its new strategy, the Delhi airport is cashing in on the growing business traffic between Africa and China by offering their airlines a stopover in Delhi, where they can drop as well as pick up new passengers (under the sixth freedom granted by the government).

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Image: Delhi International Airport.


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For stopovers in Delhi, it is also wooing central Asian airlines, many of which have smaller aircraft and cannot fly directly but want to carry passengers to leisure destinations in Southeast Asia.

The action has begun despite some established airlines having complained that Indian airports are among the more expensive in the world.

Ethiopian Airways is already flying daily from Addis Ababa to Beijing but with a stopover in Delhi.

China Airlines jets across Taipei to Rome, with a stopover in Delhi. For domestic passengers in Delhi, this is the only direct flight to the Italian capital after Alitalia shut operations.

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There are others joining in as well. Air Astana has applied to the government to fly from Almaty to Bangkok with a stopover in Delhi. DIAL executives say talks are on with various other central Asian airlines to do the same. Aeroflot is looking at connecting Moscow through Delhi to Kathmandu.

A DIAL spokesperson said, "We are working on new markets. For instance, there is a lot of business happening between China and Africa in the mining and engineering space. That is an opportunity." 

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The spokesperson added they were also talking to central Asian carriers to fly via Delhi to Southeast Asia, where travellers wanted to go for leisure tourism.

"They do not have aircraft that can fly non-stop to these leisure destinations, as they are mostly narrow-bodied. So, we offer a stopover for them to go onward to Southeast Asia," the spokesperson said.

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The new push has helped DIAL see its transit passenger numbers go up from a mere two per cent of total passengers in 2006 to 12 per cent currently.

In 2006, the daily average of passengers using the airport as a hub was 3,698. Now, that has increased to 14,254 passengers.

Dubai has over 45 per cent of Emirates traffic stopping over there while 52 per cent of Lufthansa's traffic is made up of passengers with a transit stopover in Frankfurt.

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DIAL executives say unlike these cities, which are either city states with very little domestic traffic or are historical hubs, the Indian model should be compared with airports in the US.

The 'hubbing' traffic there is limited - not more than 20 per cent at New York's JF Kennedy Airport, for instance.

 

 





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