Brace Brace! Delhi to reshuffle flights between terminals

Delhi Airport is one of the biggest in Asia, however has been facing a capacity crunch over a period of time now. It is the base of 3 airlines, Vistara, Air India and Indigo, and the gateway to India for many other carriers.

Now, trouble is, it was built to handle 66 million customers per annum, and it is already doing more than that.

Delhi has 2 terminals operational right now. The Terminal 3 which is the newest one, handles the international operations and the 3 full-service carriers, Vistara, Air India and Jet Airways, apart from Air Asia India which also operates a limited Delhi schedule from there.

On the other hand, Terminal 1, which was the older terminal handles the no-frill carriers Indigo, GoAir and SpiceJet. Terminal 1, the contentious terminal, has a capacity of 20 million passengers while 24 million passengers pass through the gates.

Terminal 1D queues at Check-in

Terminal 1D queues at Check-in

With the airport growing fast on capacity, the airport operator has for the longest time wanted to expand the capacity of Terminal 1, however, all the 3 airlines are resisting the move. The initial option given to them was to move to Terminal 3, however, they did not want to bite on this option given it is more expensive to operate from.

Terminal 1D Crowd on Sunday

Terminal 1D Crowd on Sunday

The airport operator DIAL then gave them the option to move to Terminal 2, a terminal which was not operational since 2010. The first request to the 3 carriers was to move bag and baggage to Terminal 2, and not all of them had to go. Indigo being the king of the Jungle refused to go, given it is closer to the Delhi city than the other terminal, and SpiceJet and GoAir took the same position.

Terminal 1D Departure Gate Rush

Terminal 1D Departure Gate Rush

Ultimately, it has come to this. The Delhi International Airport Limited, has asked all the 3 carriers to move 30% of their flights from Delhi Terminal 1 to Delhi Terminal 2 by the start of the winter schedule, which will be implemented on October 29. This would be cumbersome, and reminds me of the situation where the student responsible for menace in the class would not get up when asked to, and the entire class be punished. Ultimately, the adult thing to do would have been for one carrier to move in their entirety, but they all behaved like kids holding on to their candy, and now they will all be served punishment equally.

This would mean massive confusion here on for customers, who will have some problem for some time to figure out where to go to. The airlines are supposed to inform the airport by the end of August about the flights they will move to Terminal 2.

The plan for the airport is to add a 4th runway, and more departure gates at Delhi’s Terminal 1 so that the airport terminal is able to handle more customers.

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Hi Ajay, thanks for sharing.
    This is sad and unwarranted to some extent, as you rightly point out. One would expect the authorities to be more decisive and have a better discussion with the airlines and other stakeholders. Kinda sucks that negotiations couldn’t bring a solution upfront.

    that said, this still seems like a short term plan. The limits to which IGI can be expanded is limited, given the strong Air Force presence in the neighborhood. Delhi, like Mumbai, and similar to other mega-cities of the world, needs a second airport. Hopefully the Noida area airport is put into works soon.

    at the same time, i wonder what will happen to aamchi mumbai! we are losing out big time due to lack of vision in infrastructure planning! sigh! fingers crossed!


  2. Hi AJ! Big fan of your Blog… I wonder how Indigo let go of an amazing opportunity to have a whole terminal to itself… if it had negotiated well…

    It could have worked to its advantage… Alas!!

    Please keep up the good work.

    • @Rohit, Indigo it seems wanted the whole of 1D to themselves, which no one else wanted for them. Even in Mumbai they are trying to get a hold on the whole of Terminal 1 when everyone will eventually move to Terminal 2, but without success.

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