The Noida International Airport Limited (NIAL) and Zurich Airport International AG on Wednesday signed a key agreement that would allow the Swiss developer to begin work at the site of the upcoming Jewar airport near Delhi, officials said.
The 'concession agreement' for the Greenfield airport, estimated to cost Rs 29,560 crore, was inked between the Uttar Pradesh government's agency and the Yamuna International Airport Private Limited (YIAPL), a special purpose vehicle floated by the Zurich Airport for the project, they said.
The agreement was signed by NIAL CEO Arun Vir Singh and Noida International Airport CEO Christoph Schnellmann in the presence of Additional Chief Secretary to CM and Civil Aviation Department, Uttar Pradesh government, SP Goyal and Civil Aviation Department Director Surendra Singh, according to an official statement.
They were joined by NIAL directors Ritu Maheshwari and Narendra Bhushan, besides project's Nodal officer Shailendra Bhatia, among others with Zurich Airport's CEO Daniel Bircher joining the event virtually via Zoom from Switzerland.
"The concession agreement grants Zurich Airport International the licence to design, build and operate Noida International Airport for a period of 40 years," according to the statement.
The airport is being built on the public-private partnership (PPP) model and is billed to be the biggest in India upon completion, Nodal officer Shailendra Bhatia said.
"Infrastructure development will be key to economic recovery, not only in the state but also for the country. The construction of Noida International Airport will support economic growth through job creation in the state, while making it the most preferred destination for domestic as well as global investors in the upcoming years. We look forward to supporting the Zurich Airport International team to jump-start this mega project, which will reinforce the economic progress of the state of Uttar Pradesh," Mr Goyal said.
Mr Bircher said the signing of the agreement marks an important milestone in the development of the airport and when phase 1 development is completed in 2024, the developer will provide capacity for 12 million passengers per year.
"In partnership with the government of Uttar Pradesh and the government of India, Zurich Airport International looks forward to making this airport a major player in Indian air transportation and a benchmark for ease of use for passengers and logistic partners.
"We are a committed and trusted partner for India's growth, and see tremendous opportunity to invest and participate in India's aviation growth story," he was quoted as saying in the statement.
Mr Bircher separately told news agency PTI, "Construction will start in 2021, start of operations is planned for beginning of 2024."
NIAL officials had earlier stated that the airport in Gautam Buddh Nagar district in western Uttar Pradesh will be spread over an area of 5,000 hectare and is billed to be the biggest in India with six runways upon completion.
The first phase of the project will be spread over an area of 1,334 hectare and is expected to cost Rs 4,588 crore, the officials said.
Land for the first phase has been acquired by the district administration from six villages of Rohi, Parohi, Banwari Bans, Dayantpur, Kishorepur and Ranhera in Jewar tehsil under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act, 2013.
The project has impacted 8,971 families of these villages, while 3,627 families would have to be displaced and rehabilitated, according to project documents.
The displaced people are planned to be resettled in a township in Jewar Bangar with government support, according to officials.
"After the work on the first phase is completed, we are expecting 12 million to 16 million passengers annually at the Jewar airport," NIAL's Arun Vir Singh told reporters.
"This world-class airport will not only connect western UP region with other domestic and international destinations, but also provide additional capacity to the Delhi NCR region. Together, we look forward to building India's leading airport which boasts of quality, efficiency, technology and sustainability. We are very excited to begin work as we move ahead with a vision to co-create a world-class facility," Mr Singh was quoted in the statement.
On November 29 last year, Zurich Airport had emerged as the highest bidder - Rs 400 per passenger - to develop the Jewar airport, outbidding competitors like Adani Enterprises, DIAL and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holding.
It received the security clearance from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to develop the airport at Jewar in May this year.
The concession agreement was scheduled to be signed by July 2 this year but got delayed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic that restricted international flight operations and prevented representatives of Zurich Airport from reaching India, the officials said.
According to an official document, the entire project was planned in four phases. The first phase will cost Rs 4,588 crore and have traffic design capacity of 12 million passengers, which shall increase to 30 million during the second phase with a project cost of Rs 5,983 crore.
The third phase is scheduled to have traffic design capacity of 50 million passengers at a cost of Rs 8,415 crore while the capacity shall increase to 70 million annually by the fourth phase that will cost Rs 10,575 crore, it showed.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)