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Challenges during development and testing
At the developmental stage, the project team encountered a series of challenges. One of the main tasks was to acquire land for the project and ensure smooth resettlement of villagers in the area. This was a time-consuming process. The next big task was to complete the ground leveling within the prescribed time and ensure the site preparation for the major earthworks. Besides the terminal building, work had started on runway design and earthwork. Sufficient slopes and drainage at all times are key aspects of a good runway, and these were factored in at the design and development stage.

The greenfield airport project, situated 25 km from the city, required providing connectivity to the staff. The project management team was responsible for managing connectivity to the airport site from Hyderabad. Before the completion of the terminal building, the team also created connectivity infrastructure for users of the airport later.

At the testing and deployment stage, the following were some of the main aspects the team took care of:
• Coordinated approach to prepare all airport stakeholders for a  smooth transition;
• Alignment of concepts and procedures (who does what, how);
• Streamlining of interfaces and clarification of responsibilities;
• Verification of contingency and emergency procedures;
• Comprehensive familiarization training and  identification of training deficiencies; and
• Highlighting and planning all aspects for a successful transfer of airport operation.

The project management team also focused on the requirements of support services at the airport, like food and beverage providers and retail outlets, and addressed any functional deficiencies in the design from all aspects. The team provided training and familiarization to the operational staff. They also provided training to airlines staff on check-in, baggage handling, and inline screening systems that were unique in the country at that time. There was continuous testing and trials of electrical systems to ensure uninterrupted power supply support for all critical systems and switchover from mains power to generator and vice versa.

At the time of deployment, the team handled recruitment, training and talent management of staff. It conducted reality checks and validation of training on various sophisticated systems and concept of operations. It initiated Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer with stakeholders, managed the aspirations of stakeholders, and familiarized them with the processes.

The service contracts of various support service providers had to be conducted, fallback measures developed, the readiness of basic facilities, and amenities for passengers checked. The team also managed the aerodrome licensing process and conducted the crucial transition from the old Begumpet airport to the new Shamshabad site. At the time of the launch, it also handled media management.

The airport today
RGIA has been built and operated by a joint venture company promoted by the GMR Group in partnership with the Government of India, Government of Andhra Pradesh and Malaysia Airports Holdings, Berhad.

It was built at a cost of Rs 2,958 crore, and with 28.63 million hours of human labor, and now stands on a total area of 244,714 sq mt.

It was completed in a record time of 31 months on the midnight of 23 March 2008. It is the second airport venture in India under the Public Private Partnership model, the first being the Cochin International Airport. It is the sixth busiest airport in India after Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and Kolkata.

RGIA handles about 6.4 million passengers annually. The 4,260-meter runway at the airport is one of India’s longest. In the first phase, the airport has been designed to handle 12 million passengers, more than 100,000 metric ton of cargo and 90,000 air traffic movements per annum. Eventually, it will accommodate 40 million passengers per annum. It has been designed to handle large aircraft, including Airbus A380. The modular design of the airport will allow expansion of each area, without major rebuilding or operational disruption.

The Airports Council International (ACI) recently rated RGIA the fifth best airport in the world. Among airports in the category of 5-15 million passengers, it has been rated the world’s number one. (ACI is an autonomous body that undertakes regular surveys to capture passengers’ perception of the quality at airports. Ratings are provided for more than 34 different service aspects.) RGIA is also the first airport in Asia and second in the world to be awarded Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Rating for its eco-friendly design.

The GMR Group has built a rich legacy in infrastructure projects in India, and project management has been the key to its success.

“Project management is very critical for our organization. On-schedule completion of projects within cost and requisite quality is always the key to our successful existence as Build Operate Transfer (BOT) developers. We have a project management department that manages all our projects,” said a senior GMR official.

Project management can go a long way in maintaining timelines in infrastructure projects without compromising on quality and overshooting costs. In India, where infrastructure projects cost millions of rupees because of delay, both public and private developers can learn a few lessons from the RGIA success story.

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