Delhi Airport is one of the biggest in Asia, however has been facing a capacity crunch over a period of time now. It is the base of 3 airlines, Vistara, Air India and Indigo, and the gateway to India for many other carriers.
Now, trouble is, it was built to handle 66 million customers per annum, and it is already doing more than that.
Delhi has 2 terminals operational right now. The Terminal 3 which is the newest one, handles the international operations and the 3 full-service carriers, Vistara, Air India and Jet Airways, apart from Air Asia India which also operates a limited Delhi schedule from there.
On the other hand, Terminal 1, which was the older terminal handles the no-frill carriers Indigo, GoAir and SpiceJet. Terminal 1, the contentious terminal, has a capacity of 20 million passengers while 24 million passengers pass through the gates.
With the airport growing fast on capacity, the airport operator has for the longest time wanted to expand the capacity of Terminal 1, however, all the 3 airlines are resisting the move. The initial option given to them was to move to Terminal 3, however, they did not want to bite on this option given it is more expensive to operate from.
The airport operator DIAL then gave them the option to move to Terminal 2, a terminal which was not operational since 2010. The first request to the 3 carriers was to move bag and baggage to Terminal 2, and not all of them had to go. Indigo being the king of the Jungle refused to go, given it is closer to the Delhi city than the other terminal, and SpiceJet and GoAir took the same position.
Ultimately, it has come to this. The Delhi International Airport Limited, has asked all the 3 carriers to move 30% of their flights from Delhi Terminal 1 to Delhi Terminal 2 by the start of the winter schedule, which will be implemented on October 29. This would be cumbersome, and reminds me of the situation where the student responsible for menace in the class would not get up when asked to, and the entire class be punished. Ultimately, the adult thing to do would have been for one carrier to move in their entirety, but they all behaved like kids holding on to their candy, and now they will all be served punishment equally.
This would mean massive confusion here on for customers, who will have some problem for some time to figure out where to go to. The airlines are supposed to inform the airport by the end of August about the flights they will move to Terminal 2.
The plan for the airport is to add a 4th runway, and more departure gates at Delhi’s Terminal 1 so that the airport terminal is able to handle more customers.