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India’s best airport?

hyderabad-airportPlanning a trip to Hyderabad? Whether you are flying for business reasons – as a client or consultant for the software industry (the city is after all called “Cyberabad” for good reasons despite the Satyam scam that has tarnished its name and rocked Indian economy)—or for a holiday (shop for pearls, eat some of the best biryani in India), you are likely to find your visit more convenient this time round.

With direct flights to 14 countries, Hyderabad’s international airport now has improved infrastructure and state-of-the art facilities and things are only likely to get better.

Located 25 miles from Hyderabad city, the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport— which was completed in March 2008— has handled over 4.5 million passengers and over 35,000 metric tonnes of cargo in its first eight months of operations. The growing attention of the airport — it’s hosting the seventh Routes Regional Asia 2009 — a premier event where  people  from  the airlines and airports  sector work together to develop air services; shows world attention is definitely on Hyderabad. In fact, Albert Brunner, former CEO of BIAL said in a recent interview, that the best brand new airports in India were Hyderabad and Bengaluru. They were better than Delhi and Mumbai’s new airports.

British Airways now flies to Hyderabad, so do many other international airlines

Brunner’s excitement is echoed by airlines, both foreign and domestic, all queuing up to get direct flights into Hyderabad. According to Vishwanath A, Chief Commercial Officer, GMR Hyderabad, “The airport is currently connected to 18 domestic destinations and 14 international destinations. This figure is likely to go up not just because of passenger growth but because of facilities. Currently, Hyderabad’s international airport is the only airport in India geared to handle A 380 aircraft.”

A big recognition of the airport’s standing has been the arrival of British Airways (BA). In December last year BA commenced five weekly nonstop flights from Hyderabad to London. This means that business travellers need no longer fly to Mumbai or Bengaluru to fly abroad.  Indeed, for IT professionals —many of whom have business in the US — BA offers 22 US destinations from London. This will save the Hyderabad-based business travellers both time and money. And BA is not the only one. Airport officials confirm 13 international airlines have provided the airport with good international connectivity with direct flights to nearby countries like Dubai, Malaysia and Thailand among others. For businessmen looking for a quick getaway for a corporate weekend or a team bonding session, these flights are a welcome relief.

BETTER INFRASTRUCTURE

The other advantage is the infrastructure around the airport which has eased travelling time. Connectivity to and from the airport has been one of the biggest challenges but the GMR and the state government have taken various steps to handle this. The introduction of aeroexpress — AC airport shuttle buses which ply from five designated locations and GPS controlled radio taxis has reduced problems of connectivity. Also, construction on an elevated expressway and four-lane outer ring roads shows how serious the Andhra government is about welcoming travellers. Such dedication suggests that the public-private partnership — the Andhra government and the Airports Authority of India own part of the airport in conjunction with GMR and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad — is a model that might be worth emulating in other airport projects  across India.

FACILITIES

There are many facilities for business travellers at the Hyderabad airport.  As Vishwanath points out, “The airport has over 13 Business Class lounges with services that include business centres, baggage hold, limousine and massage services among others. There are also three VIP lounges located at the Departure, Arrival and Remote Gates on the ground level.” He adds, “The airport also has a Special Lounge operated by the Plaza Premium Lounge. It offers a 28-bed slumber room on level C with quick shower and nap facilities.

But the icing on the cake for business travellers is the spa treatment. The spa treatment offers India’s first Fish Reflexology Centre at an airport. Fish reflexology is a new technique where a person places his feet into a pond full of fish. The fish eat away the dead skin leaving the person rejuvenated. Vishwanath says. “Also introduced for the first time in India is the airport village area.  This is located at the entrance of the terminal building. About 2,400 square metres of retail space is available for passengers to shop in. So whether you want a quick bite, or grab a present for family or a business gift for a client, the choice is all here.

THE FUTURE

According to Vishwanath, Hyderabad’s fast growth in air traffic is likely to continue in the coming future. He says, “A study done by Lufthansa Technik, that passenger  growth will grow over four times to reach 20 million passengers per annum by 2019.” He however cautions, “Keeping the current trends and development in the aviation sector following the huge rise in ATF prices – these estimates would need to be revisited as it is bound to impact passenger growth. Airlines will rationalize route and frequency for the sectors they presently cater to and this will definitely have an impact on numbers.”

Another factor business travelers need to bear in mind is that both inbound and outbound passengers need to pay UDF at Hyderabad International Airport. UDF means User Development Fee. It is an amount that passengers will have to pay, over and above your ticket.  The sum which is approximately Rs 375 for domestic passengers and Rs 1,000 for foreign destinations has to be paid in cash while checking in. It is important  to bear this in mind while traveling from the south as currently both Hyderabad and Bengaluru — being new airports — charge UDF from all passengers to make up the airport’s initial losses. Despite efforts UDF has not yet been implemented in Delhi and Mumbai airports.

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6 Responses to “India’s best airport?”

  1. Bosky says:

    India always rocks and it has and will always have a bright future

  2. INDIA IS A DAOVATING COUNTRY.THIS AIR PORT HAVE WORLD 1ST NUMBER AIR PORT

  3. kalpa says:

    Yes i agree with you.

  4. Norene Wheat says:

    Interesting article. I got to your blog through yahoo while i was researching for web space. I will recommend your site to other people and I am sure they will think the same about your article on this site.All Best

  5. shareef says:

    ya its amazing

  6. Interesting post. For me as an traveler from overseas berlin, germany it is importend to watch out what´s going on in the states. regards

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