The new Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad near on the outskirts of Hyderabad began its commercial operations early yesterday when a Lufthansa flight arrived. ( Gulf )
But initial hiccups marred the opening day as a KLM flight from Amsterdam failed to land due to "confusion".
The flight was diverted to New Delhi as it was denied permission and finally landed in Mumbai. It was scheduled to land at Shamshabad at 1.45am.
However, the first flight from Frankfurt and four more from other destinations had a smooth landing at the new airport, about 30 km from the city centre.
GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL), the developers of the new airport, said the KLM flight faced problems due to the confusion over change of aviation code, after the operations were shifted out from Begumpet airport in the heart of the city.
"Initial hiccups will be there. We are trying to achieve operational excellence," said GMR Chairman G.M. Rao while welcoming the passengers and crew of the first flight after the new facility became operational at midnight.
The Lufthansa aircraft, carrying 276 passengers and crew aboard from Frankfurt, Germany, landed at 12.25am, marking the commencement of the much-awaited commercial operations at the new airport.
All passengers and crew members were given a rousing reception on their arrival at the new airport, which was inaugurated by the United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi on March 14.
This is the first greenfield airport built in public-private partnership and incorporates the best of facilities in Oslo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore airports.
With this, the 76-year-old Begumpet airport located in the centre of Hyderabad was officially shut down.
Despite the distance from the city and poor connectivity, the world-class facilities provided at the new airport impressed the passengers. "This is a wonderful place. It looks as if I am standing at Dubai or London airport," said Umamaheswar Rao, a passenger.
Designed to handle 12 million passengers in the first phase, the new airport's ultimate capacity is set to be 40 million passengers per annum and one million tonnes of cargo.
It is the first airport in India to have no demarcation between international and domestic terminals, making passenger movement easier.
It also has a unique airport village with commercial space where passengers can meet with their friends and relatives.