Terminal 3 starts commercial operations

New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) State-run Air India’s AI-102 from New York Wednesday became the first scheduled flight to arrive at India’s swankiest and largest terminal at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here but operations were severely affected by a radar glitch in the evening that lasted half-an-hour.

The flight which arrived here at 4.45 p.m., with 200 passengers marked the start of the commercial flight operations of what is officially known as Terminal 3 (T3).

The passengers who arrived from the New York’s John. F. Kennedy International airport were pleasantly surprised to find such a state-of-the-art infrastructure in India as T3.

‘When we first landed, it looked like an terminal of international standards from outside, inside it is truly Indian with the carpets and the atmosphere. It is something I could have never imagined in India,’ New York resident Keith Sharma told IANS.

‘It is the first time I saw such a huge terminal in India with so many areo-bridges and even walkalator in India. This truly makes me proud,’ Sharma added.

Jet Airways had the distinction of being the first private carrier to bring its passengers through T3, when its flight from Kathmandu lands at 5.15 p.m., airport authorities said.

Earlier the authorities had pushed back the commercial operations at T3 by 14 days to provide time to all stakeholders to deal with hiccups, including setting up of airline offices, synchronising security procedures, baggage handling and a range of airport operations.

However, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar that helps in tracking aircraft movements crashed at the airport Wednesday evening, disrupting 50-55 flights, an official said.

The ATC was conducting a trial run for a new software platform on which the entire applications of the radar system works. The scheduled trial run was on the new Auto-Trac-III software, which faced similar glitches on July 24.

‘A trial run of the new software platform was going on, when at around 5.45 p.m. the screens went blank and the system crashed. Immediately all operations were shifted to the older Auto-Track-II system,’ an ATC official who did not wish to be named told IANS.

According to ATC sources 50-55 flights were affected, as a backlog of flights had built up which were either waiting to depart or land.

On July 14, the first commercial flight of Air India from New York arrived at T3 with 200 passengers. This was part of nine test flights to and from the terminal July 14-15 which also included the largest passenger aircraft Airbus A-380 arriving at T3.

The sixth largest passenger terminal in the world — inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 3 — was built in a record 37 months at the cost of nearly $3 billion and has some of the most modern amenities in the world.

Among these are:

* 63 elevators, 35 escalators and 92 automatic walkways

* 168 check-in counters and 95 immigration desks

* One pier each for international and domestic operations spanning 1.2 km from one end to other

* Over 20,000 sq meters of retail area, including a large food court

* Capacity to handle 12,800 bags per hour, with 6.4 km of conveyor belts

* Multi-layer parking facility that can accommodate 4,300 cars

* Exotic plants, material imported from Thailand, Mexico, Bahrain.

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