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Futuristic Airport with Tech-enabled Solutions

To enhance the user experience, the Hyderabad airport is all geared up to utilize the power of technology to continuously monitor and elevate the cleanliness quotient of the airport, says SGK Kishore, CEO-GHIAL, in an exclusive interview with Clean India Journal

The Hyderabad Airport, right from its conceptualisation, has been setting records — Going operational in 36 months, Greenfield Airport, handling more passengers than estimated… Moving ahead what upgradations are envisaged to take Hyderabad Airport to setting newer records?

Hyderabad International Airport has come a long way, since commissioning of operations in 2008. As India’s first modern, Greenfield Airport developed under the PPP model, the airport has consistently raised the bar and created benchmarks in terms of service and operational excellence.

The Hyderabad International Airport handled over 21 million passengers in FY 2018-19. A sharp passenger growth has been witnessed post the formation of the newest state of India – Telangana in 2014 and the passenger traffic grew at a CAGR of nearly 20% for the past five years. In order to cater to this growth while ensuring a great passenger experience, the Hyderabad International Airport is undergoing significant expansion. The first phase will take two to three years to complete.

As part of the expansion plans and to decongest the airport while work is underway many interim structures to cater to various passenger needs have been envisioned and made operational. This includes commissioning of the Interim International Departures Terminal (IIDT), an exclusive concourse for international departures; and the Interim Domestic Arrivals Terminal (IDAT) with four new additional baggage carousels to enhance passenger experience related to baggage.

New age technology solutions such as India’s first ever remote hand baggage screening facility and Automatic Tray Retrieval System (ATRS) were deployed to increase the passenger throughput and also enhance the passenger experience. As a part of rapidly progressing expansion project, the forecourt ramps have already been doubled and the number of aircraft parking stands have also been nearly doubled.

The futuristic expanded Hyderabad Airport will have a plethora of tech-enabled solutions for passengers to experience, ushering them into a whole new cosmos of latest, passenger centric automated interfaces leading to minimal intrusion and transporting them through a seamless movement through the airport.

How has the Airport, in the last decade, lived up to the environmental and sustainable commitment?

Environmental Sustainability was one of the driving themes in the development of the Hyderabad Airport, and it permeates every aspect of the airport’s infrastructure and operations to this day.

The airport has a ‘green’ passenger terminal building, which has won the ‘Silver’ rating in ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ (LEED) certification in the year 2008 by the US Green Building Council. Apart from the green terminal building, the entire airport has a well-planned and maintained greenbelt and landscaping which has won laurels for its beauty and pleasing ambience. The extensive greenery at the airport is maintained by treated wastewater and modern Drip Irrigation system ensuring minimal water wastage. The airport also has first of its kind captive composting plant for processing food wastes. The organic manure from the plants are extensively used in maintaining the sprawling green cover, which also acts as a natural sink of the carbon emissions absorbing about 240 tonnes of CO2 / annum.

The airport also has a major focus on water conservation, with a specially designed Rainwater Harvesting facility able to store enough water to meet the airport’s needs for over 60 days. The airport is harvesting and using the rainwater on a big scale that has also helped to enhance the water table level in the area.

As a part of Airport’s water conservation strategy, two Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) have been installed at airport campus to treat and recycle wastewater to ensure zero discharge from the airport premises. Almost 40% of daily water needs at airport including flushing, cooling water make-up and irrigation are met from recycled water.

The focus on sustainability leadership continues into energy conservation efforts as well. The airport offers the airlines the use of Fixed Electrical Ground Power (FEGP) for the aircraft turnaround operations instead of relying on fossil-fuel operated Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) & Ground Power Units (GPU) to avoid noise & exhaust emissions emanating from APU & GPU. Additionally, progressive introduction of battery operated Ground Support Equipment (GSE) vehicles in place of conventional internal combustion engine driven vehicles, regular pollution check for the GSE, etc., have contributed in curtailing emission levels significantly.

As part of its energy conservation measures, Hyderabad airport is the first in the country to convert a major portion of the entire lighting system at airport campus including airfield lighting to energy efficient LED lights, bringing down energy conservation significantly. The airport has the laurel of being the first in South India and only the 2nd in India to have the entire taxiway edge lights replaced from halogen lamps to energy efficient LED lamps.

A 5MW solar energy power plant at RGIA was commissioned in November 2015 for its captive use. This green energy meets approx. 15% of the airport’s total electricity demand and saves 7,100MT of carbon emission annually. The 5MW captive plant was further upgraded by another 5MW and is in the process of being commissioned. Once commissioned, the total solar power capacity will be enhanced to 10MW which will further reduce dependency on the commercial power.

Reduction of carbon footprint has been one of the key focus areas in environment sustenance measures at RGIA. GHIAL has been consistently reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2009 by implementing a number of energy conservation initiatives. The airport has implemented Carbon Accounting & Management System (CAMS), which helps to measure, manage and report its GHG emissions and enables the airport to take measures in reducing them even further. RGIA is one of the first airports in Asia Pacific region to account its GHG emissions which is further verified by an external authorised agency in accordance with the requirements of ISO 14064-1:2006.

Overall, the airport employs a host of environment focused initiatives aimed at optimizing the use of natural resources by conserving water, fuel, electricity and practicing the best waste management procedures. Hyderabad Airport extensively involves all its stakeholders in these efforts, including its employees, airlines and other airport community members.

Hyderabad Airport’s achievements in the area of sustainability has won it the recognition of being a ‘Level 3+/Carbon-neutral’ airport under ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, becoming the first airport in its size category and only the second overall in Asia Pacific region to achieve this milestone.

The world is moving towards digitization. How do you see Hyderabad Airport moving up the scale in tune with other international airports in the world?

Hyderabad International Airport has consistently been introducing digitalization as a critical enabler of service and operational excellence. Hyderabad Airport has been a pioneer in the journey of innovation and rapid technology adoption, since its inception, and has emerged as a testing ground for the implementation of new and path-breaking technologies in the Indian airports sector. Leveraging technology, Hyderabad airport has been offering unique solutions such as Express Security Check for passengers travelling with only hand baggage, ATRS for hand baggage screening and elimination of hand baggage stamping to ensure passengers have a smooth and seamless experience. As a pioneer among Indian airports, the first e-boarding solution offering fully paperless experience to domestic passengers introduced two years ago has also made us the first mover in trials for face recognition technology. In line with the DigiYatra, a signature program of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India, we envisage face recognition will GO LIVE in a phased manner by the end of this year. The Face Recognition is an extension to our e-boarding facility, in line with our quest to usher our passengers to a whole new paperless and seamless experience at Hyderabad Airport. In our journey of expansion that we have embarked, it is our vision to make the fully expanded airport a smart and futuristic one completely tech-enabled.

Clean and Hygiene environment of an airport gives a lasting impression to the passengers. Any plans to enhance user experiences?

Hyderabad Airport is strong proponent of providing a clean and hygienic environment to the passengers. We have a dedicated and fully trained workforce on the ground ensuring the cleanliness and hygiene of the airport and its vicinity. RGIA has embarked on the Swachha Bharat Campaign leading to cleanliness drives across the airport and its surrounding areas. The organization collaborate with various stakeholders in the cleanliness mission with the objective of ‘Clean Airport, Clean India’. Hyderabad International Airport has been the first airport in India to introduce its captive composting plant to process the food waste. The compost generated out of this plant is used as manure to upkeep the greenery of its vast landscape.

In the airside, a dedicated team of 70+ members are involved in mechanized cleaning of the oil stains on the aircraft parking stands with use of specialized vehicle/ equipment and removing foreign object debris (FODs). At the terminal building, Customer Facilities & Logistics team works round the clock to ensure the cleanliness and hygiene of the terminal. Among the various cleaning methods, Hyderabad Airport is using mechanical cleaning gadget, which has an ergonomically designed handle with many features such as adjustable and variable shaft length and angle – ideal for cleaning in areas where manual methods were being used.

To further enhance the user experience, the airport is all geared up to utilize the power of technology to continuously monitor and elevate the cleanliness quotient of the airport.

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