Before Prime Minister Narendra Modi could lay the foundation stone of the Noida International Airport on November 25, Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia and Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur claimed that the upcoming airport in Jewar, Uttar Pradesh, will be Asia’s largest.
“As Asia’s largest airport, Noida International Airport is also going to bring with it an investment of Rs 35,000 crore. This will provide employment to more than one lakh people and will also accelerate the pace of development in the region,” tweeted Anurag Thakur.
A day ahead of the foundation-stone-laying ceremony by PM Modi, Scindia was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times that “The Noida International Airport in Jewar, Greater Noida, will be Asia’s biggest aviation facility and generate employment for more than a hundred thousand people.”
The context of the claims of both the ministers is unclear. Neither of them specified if they were referring to Noida International Airport to be Asia’s largest airport for its passenger capacity or air traffic movement or its size. But, when verified, FactChecker found that no matter which criterion, Noida International Airport does not seem to be becoming the largest airport in Asia.
What’s the Plan?
The master plan for the upcoming 1,334-hectare airport in Jewar includes building it in the next 40 years in four phases in the Yamuna Expressway International Development Authority-notified area of the Gautam Budhha Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh. The master plan was prepared in collaboration with the aviation consultants at Landrum & Brown and experts from Zurich Airport International.
The airport will have two terminals, where Terminal 1 will have a capacity of 3 crore passengers a year, and Terminal 2 4 crore passengers annually. More so, the airport will house two runways, which are 3,900 metres and 4,150 metres long.
The first phase of the airport is planned to be completed by September 29, 2024, which will serve around 1.2 crore passengers annually.
Not Asia’s largest
The Noida International Airport is touted as the largest airport in India with an annual passenger capacity of 7 crore. But, there are seven airports in Asia that hosted over 7 crore passengers in 2019, according to Airports Council International, a global trade representative of the world’s airport authorities.
Since passenger traffic numbers were impacted by Covid-19 in 2020 and the world’s top 10 busiest airports reported a 45.7% dip in passenger traffic, FactChecker referred to Airports Council International’s 2019 data for the comparison.
In 2019, 15 airports in the world reported passenger traffic of over 7 crore and of these seven were in Asia with the most passenger traffic reported by China’s Beijing Capital International Airport of more than 10 crore passengers.
Beijing was followed by Dubai International Airport (8.6 crore), Tokyo’s (Japan) Haneda Airport (8.55 crore), Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China (7.6 crore), Guangzhou BaiYun International Airport in China (7.3 crore), Hong Kong International Airport (7.1 crore) and Incheon International Airport in Korea (7.1 crore).
But, according to the Techno-Economic Feasibility Report done for the airport at Jewar by PricewaterhouseCoopers Private Limited for Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority, the airport can have a maximum capacity of 7.7 crore passengers annually. Despite this higher estimate, the airport may still not bag the top spot as three airports in Asia have already hosted more than 7.7 crore passengers.
While Noida International Airport is estimated to have a total area of 1,334 hectares and is being lauded for its size, King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia holds the Guinness World Record for being world’s largest airport with an area of 78,000 hectares.
It is bigger than the nearby country of Bahrain, which itself has three airports. And, more importantly, it is almost four times the size of Noida, which spans over 20,316 hectares.
Air traffic movement
While the Noida airport is estimated to have a total air traffic movement of 4,89,700 annually, in 2019, three Chinese airports reported aircraft movements greater than 489,700. These were:
- Beijing Capital International Airport (5,94,329)
- Pudong International Airport in Shanghai (5,77,846)
- Guangzhou BaiYun International Airport (4,91,249)
While the Uttar Pradesh government does plan to add three more runways to the airport, but that plan is for after 2060. So, at least till 2060, Jewar will not host Asia’s largest airport.
FactChecker had tried contacting Thakur, Scindia, and the office of the Directorate of Civil Aviation of Uttar Pradesh via call and email for clarification on these claims but had not received a response by the time of publishing. This story will be updated as and when a response is received.
This article first appeared on FactChecker.in, a publication of the data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit IndiaSpend.