It is the longest runway in India, and makes Delhi the first airport in the country to have three runways.
Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Chawla, GMR Group chairman G M Rao, GMR business chairman (Airports) K K Grandhi, AAI chairman A Ramlingam and Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Kanu Gohain were present at the function.
The aircraft first performed a fly past at 10.35 am. Music arrangements were in place for the occasion and lower the aircraft came during the fly past, higher went the music notes. Five minutes later, the aircraft returned to make the historic landing.
The new runway, christened 29/11, has been built at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore.
Larsen and Toubro workers, who were sitting on mounds of construction material, just behind the tents for the media and officials, cheered as the aircraft landed. The aircraft then taxied back to the temporary bay, where a huge crowd of mediapersons, DIAL, AAI and other airline officials were waiting.
Two of the four fire tenders of the IGIA fire service stationed there gave the traditional water salute, spraying water on the aircraft.
The commander of the plane, Captain Cyrus Edukar, and Second Officer Himanshu Rawat were given a ceremonial welcome by Praful Patel. “We are committed to building infrastructure and paving the way for India’s economy to reach new heights and we are confident that this runway will truly be a national asset,” GMR Group chairman G M Rao said.
Commending DIAL for finishing work on the runway in 15 months, Patel said operations on the new runway would begin as soon as possible. “We expect it should begin by early next month but it will take a few months to stabilise. This runway has increased the capacity of the airport from 35 flights per hour to 60 flights,” Patel said.
According to the Operation, Management and Development Agreement, the deadline for the runway was February 2009.
Captain Cyrus Edukar has, meanwhile, in his preliminary report submitted to the DGCA, given ‘full marks’ to the new runway. The DGCA will, however, be conducting finer tests with aircraft of all sizes and types.