No need for new Noida airport, says finance ministry

The finance ministry says the proposed greenfield airport at Greater Noida has little logic to it. Instead, the ministry favours upgrading infrastructure at Delhi Airport, which it says makes much more economic sense. The GMR group, the private sector company along with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), the JV that operates Delhi airport, has been opposing another airport so close to the existing one.

The ministry of civil aviation had recently put up a cabinet note for an airport at Greater Noida. But the proposal faces resistance from various quarters, which say it violates the present policy of not having competing airports within a 150 km radius of each other. The proposed airport at Greater Noida is 68 km from DIAL''s Indira Gandhi International airport, which is presently being modernised.

The finance ministry says the comparative benefits and costs of upgrading the infrastructure of the existing airport versus building a greenfield airport have to be carefully studied before a decision on the new airport is taken. Consequently, North Block has suggested a detailed re-look at the proposal before it is put up to the cabinet, official sources said.

DIAL had written to the civil aviation ministry that according to global norms, a second airport is allowed to come up in such close proximity to an existing one only when the first is saturated. Otherwise, two airports with insufficient traffic can lead to huge additional and unnecessary costs.

In fact, one of the finance ministry''s objections to the Greater Noida proposal was that it did not have any traffic projections, and therefore, there was no way of knowing whether the airport will be able to generate enough traffic. It also asked the ministry of civil aviation how the performance standards of the airport could be monitored in the absence of a concession agreement.