Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh has opened the new Terminal 3 building at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.
Inaugurating the terminal alongside United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Mr Singh said: “It would signal the arrival of a new India, committed to join the ranks of modern, industrialised nations of the world.
“The commissioning of this terminal will be a significant step forward in developing Delhi as a vital hub.
“It will encourage feeder traffic from the non-metro airports being developed by the Airports Authority of India,” he added.
With floor space of some 6.4 million square feet, 92 automatic walkways and 78 aerobridges, the terminal’s size and scale makes it easily the largest in the country.
It is hoped the addition of the new facility will allow the location to maintain its position as the eighth largest airport in the world.
The terminal has walkways lined with greenery, walls adorned with art based on the theme of ‘Flavours of India’ and brightly-lit corridors.
A direct New York-Delhi flight from Air India, which will take off from the JFK Airport, will be the first flight to arrive at IGI airport’s brand new terminal.
About two hours later, Air India’s Delhi-Dubai flight (AI 895), will earn the honour of the first departure from T3.
As a special gesture, the world’s largest aircraft, an Airbus A-380, belonging to the UAE carrier Emirates, will arrive at the newly-built Terminal 3 on July 15th.
The 517-seater superjumbo will operate flight EK-516 on the Dubai-Delhi route to celebrate the launch of T-3 as a one-time gesture by the airline, an Emirates spokesperson said.
The Indian prime minister added that there was a strong need for a regulatory and policy framework to be aligned with the requirements of the civil aviation industry to encourage investment of as much as $120 billion in the sector by 2020.
“In a span of a few years, India has become the ninth largest aviation market in the world,” he added.
Also in Terminal 3, Thomas Cook (India) has signed a new seven year agreement to provide nine foreign exchange and travel counters.
Managing director Madhavan Menon said the venture offered a chance to “get closer to our travel audience”.
“This is the first time we have had such an agreement with any airport where we can provide travel services and foreign exchange out of the same counter,” he concluded.