‘We are an airport company, not a real estate company’

Walk the Talk

In this Walk the Talk on NDTV 24x7 with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta, GM Rao, chairman, GMR Group, speaks about running Delhi's international terminal and explains why it is not the most expensive airport in the world

I am at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport's international terminal. It is a wonderful terminal and my guest today is the man who built it—GM Rao, chairman of the company that is one of India's biggest infrastructural builders. Depending on how you look at the picture, you should either be a deeply satisfied man making a lot of money or a deeply distressed businessman regretting his decision to have done it and who's running a very expensive airport—some people call it the most expensive airport. So where is the truth?

I am very satisfied with the wonderful airport we have built. It has brought pride to India. After two years now, we made good operational stabilisations. We have stabilised every thing—baggage handling and terminal operations. All the three runways are operating now. Recently, NCAER has done a study of the economic impact of Delhi airport on Delhi and also on the nation. Delhi airport contributed 0.45 per cent to the national GDP. Its contribution to Delhi's GSDP was 13.3 per cent

So this has made a contribution to Delhi?

It's also providing almost 16 lakh jobs. That is one of the good things. The credit for it goes to the GMR team. The other side is what happened in the last two years.

As far as operational efficiency is concerned, as a frequent user, I would say there is no doubt about it.

This is a very hi-tech airport. We used the latest technology here but what happened in the last two years is that we lost almost Rs 1,600 crore because the framing of the regulatory structureitself took three years. We are the first customers of the AERA (Airports Economic Regulatory Authority) and they have to make regulations, policies...this is a very complex project, they have to take consent of the stake holders. The whole thing has taken another two years. The control period for tariff is five years. Because of the three-year delay, the tariff increases.

... contd.

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