GMR Group of Bangalore on Saturday became the first Indian company to operate an airport abroad, with the formal opening of the new terminal building at Istanbul Sabia Gokcen International Airport here.
“With the opening of this airport terminal building a new era of relationship and economic partnership has begun. This has opened many more avenues for the Indian and Turkish companies to join hands,” Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, said during the inauguration ceremony.
The terminal, built in a record time of the 18 months, was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr. Patel and Malaysian Transport Minister, Y.B. Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat were also present at the ceremony.
Sabiha Gokcen International airport, which is being operated by the GMR Group, along with its partners Malaysian Airports Holding Berhard (MAHB) and Limak Insaat San Ve Tic A S (Limak) of Turkey, is the third airport being constructed by the GMR group after Hyderabad and Delhi airports.
The completion of the project makes GMR the first Indian private sector company to have successfully completed an airport project abroad. “The new terminal building, built at the cost of Rs 4000 crore, has been designed to handle 20 million passenger as the old terminal building has become nearly full to its capacity,” G.M. Rao said.
The new airport project, being undertaken at a cost of more than Rs 3,100 crore, will have an ultimate passenger handling capacity of 25 million annually.
The airport currently handles 5 million passengers annually. The new terminal will become fully operational on November 9th, when Turkish Airlines begins its operations to seven new European destinations, including London, Moscow, Amsterdam and Berlin.
Malaysian Airlines also plans to start operating three times a week to the new airport, Chairman of Malaysian Airports, Aris bin Othman said.
The new terminal will have a four storey car park with a capacity to park 4,700 cars and 72 buses apart from 112 check-in counters and a 124 room airport hotel adjacent to the terminal.
The new terminal will be a gastronomical delight for passengers. The area earmarked for food court is being increased more than three fold to 5,000 square meter food court from about 1,300 square meters at present.
GMR, along with the Turkish company Limak and Malaysia Airports Holding Berhard Airports, won the contract to build the new airport building. The contract is on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) model, with the consortium having rights for 20 years.
Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, named after the world’s first woman fighter pilot, is located in the Asian side of Istanbul. The city has two airports one each on the European and Asian sides. The Turkish government is also working on the undersea link via Metro, to enhance connectivity with the Asian side.