Hyderabad – the city of Nizams, the capital city of Telangana, India’s youngest and 29th state – carries with it over 400 years of glorious past with a definite moniker of being a Pharma and IT hub. People across the world throng this city either as tourists to explore the rich historical remnants or as prospective investors keen to be part of the resurgent Telangana. As a gateway to the South and Central India, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) warmly welcomes the world to the city of pearls which Hyderabad is. Running into its 9th year of operations, the passengers at RGIA have recently ranked it as World’s # 1 in its category in the survey conducted by Airports Council International (ACI) Airport Service Quality (ASQ) programme, marking the 8th successive year of ranking among the Top 3 airports of the world.
What took shape in 2008 as India’s first greenfield airport under Public Private Partnership model, RGIA developed and operated by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd. (GHIAL), strategically located at the geographical center of India within two hours flying time to all Indian major cities. RGIA is well positioned globally within a five hour radius from all major cities in the Middle East and South East Asia. The airport today is one of the main air travel hubs in India and an important center for destination-cum-transit location for travel between the Eastern and the Western part of the world. Currently the airport is served by 10 domestic carriers connecting 33 domestic destinations; while 15 foreign and 4 Indian carriers are connecting the city with 19 international destinations.
The growth in business and tourism opportunities in Hyderabad, has led to incremental growth in passenger traffic at RGIA. The airport is poised to receive over 15 million passengers per year by the end of March 2017 with growth rate exceeding 20% YoY.
Mr. SGK Kishore, CEO, GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd. (GHIAL) says, “The surge in passenger growth underlines the growth Hyderabad city is registering, with new businesses, investments are coming in bundles. In this transformational era, we have been continuously working to enhance the passenger experience at Hyderabad Airport. For this we are making the airport future-ready by introducing smart solutions based on technologies that deliver enhanced passenger experience. In line with the ‘Digital India’ initiative envisioned by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, we are aiming to make Hyderabad Airport the first fully tech-enabled airport in India, encompassing the entire spectrum of our business and operations.”
As part of the airport’s consistent efforts to leverage technology to deliver a better airport experience for our passengers, GHIAL conceived the e-Boarding platform as a comprehensive, end-to-end solution. It helps automate the entire journey through the airport, tying together diverse systems and inputs from a variety of stakeholders onto a simple, secure, flexible and easy to use interactive solution for our passengers and airport community members. At the same time, the solution also delivers increased security and verification abilities, which is in line with our belief that all our technology initiatives must also deliver robust and improved security features.
The e-Boarding journey at Hyderabad Airport started in 2015. Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) accorded its formal approval for the e-Boarding process in August 2015. On 28th Dec 2015, Hon’ble Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Shri Ashok Gajapathi Raju dedicated the e-Boarding facility, to the nation.
The e-Boarding solution at Hyderabad Airport relies on QR Codes and 2D Bar Codes, which are already an integral part of both electronic as well as paper tickets & boarding cards - thus making the solution more robust yet flexible enough to be compatible for the regular passengers, who do not carry smart phones. The integration with AODB (Airport Operational Database) enables process automation at various touch points making identity and travel validation by CISF much simpler for passengers of all modes of check-in.
Aadhar integrated solution makes the passenger identity verification more authentic based on biometric validation. Thanks to e-Boarding automation, airlines are now operating with minimum staff at boarding gates. CISF is able to leverage the system to enhance the level of scrutiny and security while being able to focus on its resources and its core objective of aviation security.
With Implementation of e-Boarding solution, passenger identity, travel verification and authorization have been much easier at various touch points. Now boarding gates can process 180 passengers in just 10 minutes and Self Bag Drop has reduced the queue length at check-in counters by 5% in its pilot mode of operations.
The strengths of the system in terms of adaptability, scalability and robustness were underscored recently when SpiceJet chose Hyderabad Airport to launch its Smart Check-in App. Currently, the solution has been implemented for domestic passengers; GHIAL is exploring ways of integrating the system with Immigration and Customs infrastructure also for a seamless e-Boarding process for the international passengers.
While technological interventions are adding delight to passengers, RGIA is more than just an airport - it is India’s only airport with a vibrant mix of ancillary businesses along with the core business of airport operations. One of the prime attraction of the airport is the Airport City which is being developed by GHIAL in an sprawling area of approx. 1500 acres of land – which is till date India’s largest Airport City in the offing.
Airport City or Aerotropolis is an urban ecosystem that is anchored with an airport at its core. Over the past few years, the development of airport city is gaining substantial momentum and its popularity is spreading rapidly on a global scale. The term ‘aerotropolis’ was coined by Dr. John Kasarda, a noted American academic and airport business scholar, who has published several books and papers on airport cities and aerotropolis. The concept of the aerotropolis, however, has been around for a while.
Being a Greenfield project, the master plan of RGIA envisioned creating a world class aerotropolis right from the beginning.Hyderabad Airport City offers an integrated ecosystem covering commercial office space, retail, leisure & entertainment, hospitality, education, healthcare, aerospace and logistics with a core advantage of an all-weather, world-class airside and landside infrastructure with a Code-F (A380 compatible) runway and a secondary runway.
Backed with such robust infrastructural set-up and top-notch service & operational quality, RGIA has been attracting commercial development organically. With the Hyderabad Airport city taking shape, the airport is all the more poised to contribute to the most happening and upwardly mobile State of Telangana. The youngest state of India has been recently declared by the Govt. of India as No.1 state in Ease-of-Doing business (EoDB); its capital city Hyderabad has also been adjudged as the best destination as per Mercer’s Quality of Living Index (2014-16).
The scope and size of Hyderabad Airport City echoes Kasarda’s view of airports as “urban central square” offering offices, hotels, exhibition complexes, recreation centers, sports, education, logistics taking shape round RGIA. Complimenting this concept, the Hyderabad Airport City offers some of the best in class infrastructural support for the prospective and existing businesses viz. redundancies built in Telecom, Power & IT infrastructure for 24/7 operations; dedicated power link-up with the state grid for reliable power supply, round the clock security, express connectivity with the city; pollution free and well-planned ecosystem. There is a Notified Area Committee (NAC) which is a one-stop clearance window for all approvals – thus contributing towards ease of doing business.
Hyderabad Airport City offers theme based, anchor-led development zones which include key ports and establishments, viz. Business Port, Health Port, Edu Port, Fun Port, Logistics Park and Aerospace Park. These zones are being developed with a stated vision of ‘not only to contribute directly to the airport business but also to act as the engine of economic growth in the entire region.’
The Business Port at Hyderabad Airport City houses the prominent MICE destination - Novotel Hyderabad Airport Hotel - with its 305 rooms and suites, conference halls with wifi access - offers the business travellers, delegates, tourists a right ecosystem to do business, networking with leisure activities offering best-in class facilities for conventions or leisure trips. Noted Sports Retail store – Decathlon is thronged by the travellers and regular visitors exploring the vast sports goods in India’s one of the largest sports stores available at the airport city. GMR Arena has become an attractive destination to host high-end and exciting public and private events, outdoor or indoor. Multi-talented office building at the Business Port houses MNCs like Invesco, Nipro, Fly Dubai among others.
A destination for fun and frolic, the Fun Port at the Hyderabad Airport City offers Go Karting facility for adventure lovers with some of the most adrenaline pumping driving opportunity right in front of the passenger terminal.
The Edu Port has - Pratt & Whitney Engine Maintenance Training Centre; Asia Pacific Flight Training Academy for pilot training; a regional engine maintenance training center by The CFM Centre, an Indian subsidiary of CFM International; Canada’s global business school – Schulich School of Business. Ryan International School is also soon to come up here.
Being developed as a global health complex, Health Port at Hyderabad Airport City is an upcoming destination for excellence in medicine, research and medical education. Some key facilities and services would include: Global tertiary Referral hospitals; Medical School; Nursing School; Centre of Excellence; Clinical Research; Diagnostics Centre; and Alternative Medicine.
Key attraction of Hyderabad Airport City is GMR Aerospace & Industrial Park, which is a modern, state-of-the-art Airport-based multi-product Special Economic Zone (SEZ), also consisting of India’s 1st Airport based Free Trade Zone - GIFTZ (GMR International Free Trade Zone). The Aerospace Park offers right infrastructural support for companies dealing in MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) services. GMR Aero Technic (GAT) and Air India’s facility for MRO by Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL) are operating from here. The Aerospace & Industrial park also houses companies like SAAZ Imaging Systems Pvt. Ltd., Global Aerotech India Private Ltd, Turbo Aviation, SAS Applied Research and Lab Materials Pvt. Ltd., Multisorb Technologies India Pvt. Ltd., among others.
Developing a strong Logistics Zone, the Cargo Village is the first Cargo complex in India to have implemented the concept of an Integrated Cargo Terminal with both domestic and international facilities under one roof. The Cargo Village also has a Dedicated Cargo Satellite Building (CSB) housing offices of Cargo Agents, Airlines, Regulatory bodies and Warehousing space, all available at a single facility right next to the Cargo Terminal. Datawind has opened its mobile and tablet assembling unit. A Warehousing Park is also being worked on complimenting the Logistics Park at the Hyderabad Airport City.
The Hyderabad Airport City with its strong positioning as potential economic growth engine is poised to transform the region by offering diverse industrial, education, tourism and business opportunities and international connectivity. This unique development is all set to drive the growth of Brand Hyderabad on a global scale and contribute tremendously for the development of the Region and the State of Telangana and making India proud.
Mr. Kishore says, “Hyderabad Airport City is a pioneering effort aligned with the government’s vision of creating new smart cities in India, marking a paradigm shift in the way urban landscape of country is imagined and implemented. With the International airport at its core offering excellent global connectivity and backed up by smart technologies for infrastructure and communications, the Hyderabad Airport City offers speed, agility, connectivity and overall Ease of Doing Business as unique business propositions to its customers. We aspire to grow rapidly and sustainably, bringing about benefits to the airport, its users, businesses, surrounding communities, and the entire region that we serve”
Amidst these developments and increasing air traffic and passenger throughput, environment comes as a major area which needs utmost care. Environment sustenance has been at the core of RGIA right from its design and construction phase. That is why the airport has a green passenger terminal building, which his evident from the Silver rating in ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED) certification in the year 2008 by the US Green Building Council. Apart from the green terminal building, the entire airport has a well-planned and maintained greenbelt and extensive native vegetation.
Optimizing the use of natural resources by conserving water, fuel, electricity and practicing the best waste management procedures, GHIAL involves its stakeholders including employees, airlines, and other airport communities in effectively implementing these environmental conservation programmes.
Reduction of carbon footprint has been one of the key focus areas in environment sustenance measures at RGIA. GHIAL has been consistently reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2009 by implementing a number of energy conservation initiatives. The airport has implemented Carbon Accounting & Management System (CAMS), which helps to measure, manage and report its GHG emissions and enables the airport to take measures in reducing them even further. RGIA is one of the first airports in Asia Pacific region to account its GHG emissions which is further verified by an external authorized agency in accordance with the requirements of ISO 14064-1:2006. In continuation to this journey towards sustainable airport, GHIAL has adopted the Carbon Neutral concept and joined the “Airport Carbon Accreditation programme”.
RGIA is controlling these environmental aspects and reduces its impact by practicing and promoting administrative and engineering controls such as aircraft continuous descent approach while landing, restricted use of thrust reversal, Fixed Electrical Ground Power (FEGP), for the aircraft turnaround operations instead of fuel operated auxiliary power unit (APU) & ground power units (GPU) to avoid noise emanating from APU & GPU. Additionally, introducing battery operated vehicles in place of petroleum engine driven vehicles, regular pollution check for the GSE etc. have contributed in curtailing emission levels significantly. As part of its energy conservation measures, GHIAL has replaced the halogen lightings with LEDs at the terminal building, apron lighting, street lights and offices and very soon the entire airport will be converted in to 100% LED. A 5 MW solar energy power plant at RGIA, which was commissioned in November 2015 has also led to reducing its thermal electricity consumption. This green energy meets approx. 15% of the airport’s total electricity demand. The airport also has first of its kind captive composting plant for processing food wastes. The organic manure from the plant are extensively used in maintaining the sprawling green cover, which also acts as a natural sink of the carbon emissions absorbing about 240 tonnes of CO2 / annum.
Green efforts were recognized by the ACI by accrediting RGIA with the Level 3+: Neutrality status in 2016. By this RGIA has become the first airport in its category to be carbon neutral in Asia Pacific region.
Mr.Kishore says, “GHIAL is committed to making every effort to sustain its carbon neutral status. In this regard, we are continuing the best environment practices and amplifying them for better results. There is a plan to expand the existing 5MW Solar Power Plant with an additional 5 MW for airport’s captive energy requirement. We are also exploring and working towards sustainable alternative fuels and also exploring the introduction of hybrid vehicles at the airport to further reduce the carbon footprint. We are fully committed towards environment sustenance and are building up a green airport for the progeny.”
-ANJU ANNA ALEX