New Delhi: An Air India Boeing from New York via Washington was the first aircraft to dock at one of the 78 aerobridges of the glass-and-steel Terminal 3 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Wednesday evening. (In pics: Air India flight from New York first in at T3)
The flight was given a salute with jet of water being sprayed from cannons from both its side as it taxied on the bay to dock at T3. The passengers were given a warm welcome on arrival by officials Air India and Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL).
All the 220 passengers and 18 crew members on board flight AI-102 would clear emigration at the new terminal, an Air India official said, adding it would be a “real test for all the agencies at T3.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had inaugurated the terminal on July 3. Terminal 3, or T3 as the new airport building is called, is the fifth largest airport terminal in the world.
The spanking new world-class Rs 9,000-crore T3 will integrate domestic and international operations and is expected to handle 34 million passengers every year.
With the first flight landing at the newly-built Terminal-3 of the IGI Airport to a rousing reception, Air India chief Arvind Jadhav said the national carrier would launch new flights by establishing its operations hub here.
Speaking on the occasion, Jadhav announced that Air India would make T3 as its hub and launch new flights to Melbourne, Toronto and Chicago from the winter schedule, starting October.
Prior to merger, AI had its operations hub in Mumbai and Indian Airlines in Delhi.
He also asked all employees to work together to turn the hub into an opportunity to turnaround the national carrier.
Air India would offer hub-and-spoke service by connecting a large number of Indian cities to 22 destinations across the world, providing passengers seamless transfers from domestic to international flights.
“Our first challenge is to provide world-class service from this world-class terminal. It was also a big challenge to build it. The second challenge is to run our services successfully to meet passengers’ aspirations,” he said, asking the employees to be ready to deal with passengers “in a world-class manner”.
Jadhav said T3 was “part of Air India’s turnaround plan. It will benefit the airline by increasing its revenue by 8-9 per cent in the short-term and 10-15 per cent in the long-term”.
“T3 has provided Air India with the opportunity to be the first mover. We will have to develop it as a formidable primary hub from which we will be able to connect India to the world,” the Air India CMD said.
With the planned new flights, Air India would be operating to 22 international destinations, raise the number of flights to 143 a week, up by 50 per cent, he said.
DIAL chief Kiran Grandhi said apart from developing T3 as a hub for Indian carriers, the GMR-led consortium was also creating a “cargo village” to turn the airport into a cargo focus point.
“The hub has come home”, he remarked, indicating that both Air India and Jet Airways have their international hubs at Frankfurt and Brussels airports respectively.