Home » Zurich Airport eyes more bids under PPP

Zurich Airport eyes more bids under PPP

New Delhi: Switzerland’s Zurich Airport, which is building a greenfield airport near Noida in Uttar Pradesh, is looking to bid for more airports in the public-private partnership mode, said Christoph Schnellmann, chief executive of Noida International Airport.

The Noida International Airport is coming up across 1,334 hectares at Jewar in the Gautam Buddha Nagar district. It is about 72 km from Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, 52 km from Noida, and 130 km from Agra.

“We are following this with great interest. Outside of Switzerland, we have two focused markets: Brazil and India. And both have lots of growth in air traffic, and both have very robust, mature airport privatization programmes. We are very much aware of Airports Authority’s privatization plan, and we are following that with great interest,” Schnellmann said.

“We will take a close look at the concessions once they offer them, and we will see what the terms and conditions are, but we are very interested,” he added.

Zurich Airport currently manages 10 airports worldwide, including Zurich in Switzerland, Noida International Airport in India, and eight in Latin America. The company has taken a close interest in Indian aviation in the past as well. It held a 17% stake in Bengaluru airport in 1999 under a Siemens-led consortium. Gradually, it reduced its stake in the airport and exited by selling the remaining 5% in Bengaluru International Airport Ltd to Prem Watsa’s Fairfax in 2016.

Zurich Airport views greater competition in India’s airports from major corporates such as Adani Group as a sign of the potential of Indian aviation.

“There are a number of experienced airports, investors, and operators that are interested – Indian and foreign ones—I think that’s a sign it is a very strong market, it is a very interesting place to be,” Schnellmann said.

The first phase of Noida International Airport is expected to be operational by September-October 2024, and test flights will begin in mid-2024. The airport will be developed in four phases to reach a total handling capacity of 70 million annual passengers by the end of Phase-4. In the first phase, the airport will cater to 12 million annual passengers, 40-45 hourly flight departures, 100,000 air traffic movements per year, one runway of 3,900m in length, and one terminal of 100,000 sq. m.

“This is our biggest international project outside of Switzerland. It looks like the future growth and the future investments might come sooner than we anticipate,” Schnellmann said.

While the airport will be an international airport from the first day of its operations, it will primarily serve domestic traffic when it opens in the initial phase.

“Ultimately, the airlines will decide where they want to fly based on where they think their passengers would want to go. In conversations, they confirm to us that there is a real need for additional airport infrastructure in Delhi-NCR, western Uttar Pradesh, and we can certainly anticipate routes from Noida to other key tier-1,2 cities in India,” Schnellmann said.

Schnellmann also added that Zurich Airport has no plans to partner with any other entity for operating the Jewar airport. “We have no plans to partner with any other entity, so we are here for the long run for the duration of the concession. We plan to own and operate this airport concession for the next 40 years,” he said.

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