Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) has completed the first 100 days of its commissioning. It is all set to become India’s first aeronautic facility to get the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), making it the second such airport facility in the world. RGIA’s CEO P S Nair talks about the foremost aviation facility in the country. In real terms, what kind of savings do the eco-friendly airport processes and practices yield? The airport, which has been designed to be environment friendly, has achieved savings in energy consumption (20%) and water consumption (25%). We are saving more than Rs 1 crore on power bills alone every year. Keeping in view the mounting cost of energy, our eco-friendly building will help in saving several crores by utilising natural lighting and keeping our energy costs at the bare minimum. We have not quantified the total savings on eco-friendly practices, but these are expected to be in the range of around 20-25% of our total energy costs in the long term. We have appointed TERI as our environment consultant for energy savings. What are the other practices that have been adopted to make RGIA a model aeronautical facility? Besides saving on energy, we are also applying modern equipment and intelligent software technology to save precious aviation fuel by offering one of the fastest aeronautic operations to airlines. Our entire airport is under Campus Area Network with every function attached to our airport operational database. It cuts the aircraft’s average turnaround time (time taken between landing and take-off) to 20-25 minutes, against 40-45 minutes for any busy airport in India. (Passengers takes only 10-15 minutes to board a aircraft.) Better facilities allow higher utilisation of aircraft leading to huge saving on fuel and lowering operating costs for airlines. Does it also translate into savings for the troubled aviation industry? Yes, there are a host of avenues for airlines to save costs. We are the first airport to become e-invoicing (online bills to airlines) compatible, something that will be enforced globally by International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2009 for all airport operators worldwide. RGIA is also the first one to introduce 2-D bar code system on all check-in luggage to minimise mishandling and losses. The code is backed by the Baggage Reconciliation System, which provides online detail of passenger bags to all airlines. We have also put up 16 common user self-service (CUSS) kiosks allowing passengers to check in on their own for any airline at the terminal. And for passengers, the entire terminal is fully wi-fi enabled.
What has the reason for such a keen emphasis on IT solutions? We have converted the entire airport functions into a large chain of networks, which are performed and backed by high technology application. There are hardly any operations performed manually at this airport and we are leveraging the IT systems for better economics and increased revenues in the long run. What are the passenger-centric facilities being introduced in the aeronautic operations? It is the first airport in the country to launch a nap and shower facility for passengers. There will be a 25-room facility for short-stay passengers. We have an aeroexpress service — 35 AC shuttle coach from five designated locations — at an affordable Rs 95 for any in-bound passenger, besides over 700 AC radio taxis for out-bound passengers. Besides this, for the high end passengers we have executive car service with over 100 cars at the airport. The food & beverage options at the airport have been improved over the past 100 days and now we have Pizza Hut, Hard Rock Cafe and KFC outlets as new additions while the affordable McDonald outlet will start functioning very soon. How are you ensuring better connectivity at the airport? We are negotiating with several airlines to start operations. Air India express and Gulf Air have started operation from July while 22 airlines are already connecting to 35 different destinations. We have 12 million passenger capacity per annum in the first phase and have developed 2,600 acre of the total 5,495 acre allotted to us. We are expanding to take the total capacity to 40 million passengers at the end of final phase.