With all foreign carriers shifting their bases from the existing Terminal 2 to the new, swanky Terminal 3 of the IGI Airport in Delhi on July 14, the first fully integrated terminal is all set to become operational ten days from now.

Inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday, the plush T3 will see Air India’s flight AI-102 docking in straight from New York on July 14. It will take off from T3 later. The shiny glass and steel structure has 78 aerobridges, more than Singapore’s Changi airport, and 168 check-in counters and is fully equipped to receive the super-jumbo Airbus A-380, world’s largest passenger aircraft.

While inaugurating the T3 building, Dr. Singh said that an airport “is often the first introduction to a country.” He stressed that airports should be receptive to the comfort of passengers even as they meet the highest standards of efficiency and safety. “They should employ the most modern of technologies but also exude cultural warmth,” he said.

“This is a demonstration of what India is truly capable of achieving,” a beaming Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel who had taken charge of the Ministry in 2004, said.

He did not lose the opportunity to point out that it was the vision and dream of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to have a vibrant and energetic civil aviation sector. “When 10 per cent of India’s population starts flying, we will need six times the size of present infrastructure in civil aviation sector,” Mr. Patel pointed out giving a hint at the potential which the sector holds. Praising the GMR group for completing the project in record time, he said the GMR group was much sought after for taking up international projects.

GMR Airports chief Kiran Grandhi when asked about reports that UAE carrier Emirates may fly in A-380 aircraft to T3 later this month as a symbolic gesture, said the airline has not yet formally informed the authorities about its plans.

Domestic operations from T3 would start from July 30-31 after Air India and private carriers Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines shift out of Terminals 1A and 1D, officials at the airport said. IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir would continue their operations from the existing Terminal 1D, officials added.

Spread over 4 km, 80 per cent of T3 is made of glass supported by metal frames. The nine-level terminal building would be used for 90 per cent of the entire passenger movement at the IGI Airport.

Comfortable lounges, nap and shower rooms will add to passenger comfort in the airport which will have a mix of restaurants, bars, cafes and fast food outlets in around 20,000 sq meter of commercial space.

Besides three functional runways catering to T3 terminal, it will have 92 automatic walkways and a multi-level air-conditioned car park to accommodate 4,300 cars, both first in India. There is a 100-room transit hotel and business lounge inside the terminal itself.

Around 800 Flight Information Display Systems have been used for live flight information and 8,000 speakers installed for public address system. Most modern technology has been put to use for check-in process and baggage retrieval at the new terminal, which can handle 12,800 bags in an hour.

Common User Passenger Processing System and an advanced 5 level in-line Baggage Handling System with explosive detection technology would be operational to ensure quicker processing and higher security.

Besides 95 immigration counters, the new terminal boasts of numerous escalators and walkalators, including one claiming to be the longest in Asia at 118 m. About 3000 security cameras have been installed to keep an eye on every nook and corner of the airport premises.

Almost 20,000 square metres of retail area offers duty free stores have been set up by the famous Irish duty-free chain Aer Rianta International. Passengers would get an experience of a huge mall inside the terminal itself with all top brands ranging from Gucci and Versace to L'Oreal and Dior having their outlets selling items ranging from apparel, cosmetics, perfumes, jewellery, watches to tobacco and liquor.

Famous food and beverage brands like Pizza Hut, KFC, Costa Coffee, Copper Chimney, Flavours, Cafe Ritazza and The Food Village are also opening their shops at both domestic and international areas of the terminal building.

The high speed Metro train, connecting T3 to the city centre, would allow passengers to check in their luggage at the city station and bring them straight below the airport terminal with boarding cards in hand. All they will have to do then would be to proceed for security clearance.

T3 will be one of the few green airports in the world, having eco-friendly features like energy-efficient buildings, high-performance air-conditioning, use of municipal waste to generate electricity, rain water harvesting, waste-water treatment and reuse of treated water.

Designed as per the Indian Green Building Council's rating system, T3 will have a high level of green cover with landscaping of 70 acres outside and 10,000 square metres inside the building.

Numerous varieties of plants, trees and shrubs are being planted. While most of the plants are indigenous, few exotic varieties of orchids have been sourced from Thailand and Mexico. Over 9 lakh plants will provide a green cover for the airport and the landscaping will have a large number of fountains and soothing lighting.

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