Saturday, 16 February 2008

Hyderabad to emerge as cargo hub of southeast Asia


February 13, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 12: Hyderabad will emerge as the cargo hub of southeast Asia with the new international airport at Shamshabad, 30 km from here, handling express cargo and courier services from the region.
The greenfield airport, which will become operational on March 16, will have world class cargo handling facility. The cargo handling and courier services at Shamshabad have been planned and executed after studying similar facility at leading international airports around the world including Japan, the UK, the USA and Malaysia.
"We have asked DHL Express to come to Hyderabad. They were planning to go to Sri Lanka. We offered them land and they accepted Hyderabad for a southeast Asian regional hub," said Mr GM Rao, chairman of GMR Group, which executed the Shamshabad airport.
An elated Mr Rao told this newspaper, after successful mock tests at the new airport, that the cargo terminal was in advanced stage of completion and it would be ready in time for the commercial operations at the airport next month.
The GMR Group has found a novel solution to the problem of frequent violation of airport "funnel" area by high rise buildings. The funnel area is the flight path and in view of passenger safety and security the civil aviation ministry has placed restriction on the height of buildings that come in its way.
"We have set up an automated system that works on the principle of radio detection and ranging (radar). A laser beam moves continuously around the airport covering the funnel area. Any high rise construction activity is detected within seconds and alerts the airport authorities, who will jump into action. There's no human interference involved. Everything is computerised," Mr Rao said.
When his attention was drawn to the reported plans of Uttar Pradesh State government to construct an international airport at Noida, Mr Rao said if the "Centre gives its nod to UP, we will have to close down the Delhi airport. Our agreement with the Centre is that there will be no international airport within 150 km radius of another international airport. In case the Centre says yes, it has to compensate us for the loss," he pointed out.
Mr Rao said the airport would have a novel concept of aerotropolis with hotels, commercial centres, hospitals, and residential quarters. Such a concept is present at Incheon airport in Seoul, Munich and Hong Kong. "It is a complete airport city. In the next phase we will have a convention centre. There will be four star hotels in addition to the Novotel hotel in the first phase.

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