Indira Gandhi Airport to Become India’s First Global Transit Hub, with more Flights from USA and Other Countries

India is all set to make New Delhi IGI Airport a world-class international hub, with a panel having been set up to study the dynamics of global transit hubs, such as Doha, Dubai, London, and Singapore. The panel will submit reports to the country’s civil aviation minister. Indian Government’s repeated denial of foreign airlines’ petitions seeking an increase in their flying rights to and from India has been a hint at the plans for developing Indira Gandhi Airport as a global transit hub.

A transit hub is an international airport with world-class infrastructure for global airlines and their connecting flights. A transit hub provides enhanced connectivity to any part of the country and seamless transfer between two international or international and domestic flights. Statistically, Indira Gandhi Airport – the ninth busiest airport in the world, according to the Airports Council International’s report 2023 – has all the makings of a global transit hub.

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With the rebound of travel in the post-pandemic era, both IndiGo, the largest airline in terms of domestic market share; and Air India, a leading Tata airline group, have emerged as mega carriers under the guidance of their respective foreign CEOs. Having restricted direct access beyond capital cities for Gulf and European airlines, the government of India expects the native carriers to provide domestic to domestic, domestic to international, international to domestic, and international to international connectivity.

The third phase of expansion that Indira Gandhi DEL Airport is currently undergoing will support the government’s ambitious project for the airport to be a transit hub. On completion of the third phase in 2023, Terminal 1 will expand from 60K square meters to 169K square meters, with a boost to its traffic-handling capacity from 20 million to 40 million per annum. In addition, a new integrated terminal for both departure and arrival operations will be formed out of Terminal 1C and Terminal1D. The projected addition of a 7th check-in island will expand T3’s international transfer area.

The fourth runway, 4.4km, is also under construction to let the airport handle more international flights to New Delhi. Indira Gandhi Airport will be the first and only airport with four operational runways in the country. New Delhi is the destination of a maximum number of nonstop flights to India from USA, Europe, Australia, and other countries. Once the airport becomes a transit hub, it will see more long-haul flights from across the world. Especially, Indians in American are looking up to major airlines, especially Air India, for more nonstop flights between USA and India.

The civil aviation minister has held talks with the CEO of Air India and the CEO of IndiGo, requiring them to study the best practices that are factored in for the scheduling of transfers between international and domestic flights or between two international flights at Dubai and Doha airports, Changi International Airport, London Heathrow Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport. If Air India provides direct connectivity to New Delhi from Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, and Los Angeles in the future, the airline should make proper arrangements for international arrivals’ hassle-free domestic travel to their final destinations across the country.

Indira Gandhi International Airport’s ongoing expansion and plans to become a global transit hub are in parallel with IndiGo’s and Air India’s aircraft deal for fleet upgrade. Air India will soon induct six B777-300ER aircraft from Etihad Airways, other than six A350-900s as part of the mega deal with Airbus. The fleet expansion will support more international operations and more inbound traffic inflow. The expansion of New Delhi Airport in a phased manner will boost the passenger-handling capacity up to 100 million per annum.

7 thoughts on “Indira Gandhi Airport to Become India’s First Global Transit Hub, with more Flights from USA and Other Countries

  1. Mohan Nair

    With no direct flights from the US to Southern India, many wouldn’t prefer to fly into Delhi and fly into Southern India. The hub and spoke concept will not work for such long haul travel.

    I would rather fly one hop to Europe and fly into Bengaluru or Chennai

    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Mohan! San Francisco to Bengaluru is the only nonstop flight service between USA and South India. Reportedly, Bengaluru Kempegowda International Airport has good chances of seeing direct connectivity from more US cities in the near future.

  2. Mahesh Desai MD

    I last travel in January this year to Ahmedabad from jfk I live close to ewr I am looking forward to direct flight to Ahmedabad or shirt waiting at New Delhi or Mumbai instead of over 6 hrs of Waite for connection,no wonder mid east airlines has advantages over air India they should look in to priority

  3. Raj

    Delhi airport as a transit point for going any where from us to south india and back is an absolute shit show. I recently(April 2023) travelled from Chicago to Hyderabad via IGI airport. At first I was happy that the only place i will be landing directly in India after taking off from Chicago, soon after landing in delhi my excitement turned into horror show. Once I landed in Delhi even though my final destination was Hyderabad, I had to go through Immigration terminal and get my passport stamped in delhi itself. After that I had to collect my check in baggage in delhi which took about 45mins of my time. Once after this i had to wait in Air India Check in counter again for another 1hour to check the bags for my Hyderabad flight, after almost 2 hours of unnecessary process I had to go through long domestic security check lines. On the whole by the time I reached my Hyderabad flight gate I had spent 2.5 hours simply collecting my baggage and checking it back in. I had travelled with air india in the same route prior to Covid and they had taken care of transferring the luggage by themselves and all i needed was to just go through an international secuirty check, this is something that is very common with every other international transit. But this method of rechecking luggage is absolute bull shit and some thing the indian authorities need to pay attention to if they are trying to make the journey for air travelers a smooth ride.

    My return journey was even more tiring when I started from Hyderabad and landed in Delhi to catch my flight to chicago. I had about 4.5hrs of layover so I thought I could be relaxing during that time but because our indian immigration employees get paid even for not doing their job i had to wait in line for about 3.5 hours to get my immigration stamping done. There was literally one employee who was stamping every one for about 3 flights that landed around the same time. This is absolutely pathetic as it does put India in a very bad light since there were many frustrated passengers and other foreigners who were all just worried that they would miss their flights because how horribly managed the airport staff at IGI Airport delhi is.

    Hopefully all employees will be held accountable and DGCI of India pays attention to plights of the air travelers and improves and applies simple and effective laws at airports. Until that happens I will never again chose a transit flight through delhi(mostly air india) and fly through middle east carriers where the transit is much more stream lined and really stress free.

    • indianeagle Post author

      Hi Raj! Your post-arrival and pre-departure experience is relatable. The concerned authorities should fix issues with immigration clearance and make the procedure efficient. FYI, thorough baggage transfer from the port of entry (to say New Delhi) to the final destination (to say Hyderabad) is over in India. The passengers of all international airlines, including the Middle East carriers, flying into India are required to claim their checked bags at the port of entry and recheck in the same for domestic flights.

  4. Mahesh Desai

    I flew air India from jfk to Ahmedabad this year it was disastrous,long connection 7 hours custom immigration and rechecking chaotic disorganized and returned flight immigration worst at Delhi airport why a person would fly if can get easy facility with direct flight from Middle East air line to Ahmedabad I prefer local carrier but unfortunately I may take a flight that take me direct to Ahmedabad very short sighted planning


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