Delhi outpaces Mumbai as India's aviation hub

Delhi outpaces Mumbai as India's aviation hub
Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal 3.

INDIA - Singapore Airlines' and Tata Sons' choice of Delhi as the operations base for their new airline is yet another sign that the political capital has overtaken Mumbai as the country's aviation hub.

SIA and Tata Sons announced last month that their joint venture - Tata SIA Airlines Limited - would take off from New Delhi, with an initial investment of US$100 million (S$124 million).

Just six months earlier, Air India, the government-run national carrier, moved its headquarters to Delhi after five decades in the iconic Air India Building, a 23-storey commercial tower in the heart of Mumbai.

For years the sleepy government capital to Mumbai's throbbing metropolis, Delhi is now the undisputed aviation centre of India, thanks to a spacious Terminal 3 that opened in 2010, and an abundance of land to expand.

Mumbai, by contrast, is still operating one runway, hemmed in by slum dwellers in a city where space is a luxury.

Its new Terminal 2 is scheduled to open by the end of the year but may not help it regain its No. 1 spot any time soon.

With Indian low-cost carriers Spicejet, started in 2005, and Indigo, started in 2006, also based out of Delhi, the capital's Indira Gandhi International Airport overtook Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in terms of the passenger numbers in 2011.

For the year to March this year, Mumbai handled 30.21 million passengers, while Delhi handled 34.37 million.

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