In The Armchair

The $3 Billion New Delhi Airport Terminal

Posted in India by Armchair Guy on March 17, 2011

A while ago, I wondered whether New Delhi really needed to spend $3 billion to build a new terminal.  I was in New Delhi a few days ago, so got a chance to see first hand what all the fuss was about.

The good: The new terminal is large, shiny and new.  It features a lot of fairly attractive decor.  Most international airlines have been relocated into the new terminal, as well as several domestic ones, such as Air India and Jet.  This is great because in the past it was always a pain to switch between the international and domestic terminals, especially if you were encumbered with a lot of luggage.  There’s a food court just outside the check-in area that stays open 24 hours.  It’s clean.  It’s got a lot of shops.

The bad: The first bad thing that struck me is the carpet (ha! but yes, that’s what struck me first).  I don’t think it’s generally a good idea to carpet an entire airport, because it will lead to high maintenance costs.  They also chose a chaotic orange, red and brown print that I think is atrociously ugly.  More importantly, I got the impression that they built way too big and didn’t know what to do with all the space.  In departure areas, you walk long distances through corridors and walkways that house absolutely nothing.  You’re not walking past departure gates or anything, just featureless spread out corridors that are so long they needed to add a lot of expensive moving walkways.  Possibly they might add gates to those corridors at some point, but that would involve ugly construction that everyone would have to walk through.

All in all, I have the feeling that the terminal is fairly nice, but it’s too large and it’s going to cost us a lot to maintain it.  I don’t have any idea how much it costs to build airports, but $3 billion seems a high for a single terminal, even a big one with a lot of ugly carpet.

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