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Palam Air Force Station
Present day Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi was once called Palam AFS. Now listed as one of the prominent airports in entire Asian region with the position in world’s famous airports, it is a public airport whose owner is under the Airports Authority of India and operated by the Delhi International Airport Private Limited (DIAL) to maintain its operation and huge air traffic control.
Located in southwestern outskirts of Delhi NCR region, it is major airport at which flights from almost all parts of the domestic and international sectors arrive and fly. According to recent estimates, IGI had 35,881,965 passenger movements so was its aircraft movements at 345,143 while 600,045 was the cargo tonnage. It being a primary international airport in country’s capital and located at the Palam area at approximately 16 kilometers from the southwestern side of New Delhi, the erstwhile Palam AFS had been named after that place but got renamed later on. This airport was renamed to Indira Gandhi International Airport to dedicate it to former prime minister of India.
This airport has distinction of being the busiest Indian airport. Recent moves to bring modifications to upgrade Palam AFS into Terminal 3 turned Delhi’s IGI into an airport with distinction of largest one in both India and South Asia. It remains the key aviation hub in entire Asian region due to its huge capacity to handle more than 46 million passengers in the present time.
It was in the year 1930 that Safdarjung Airport was built in Delhi. It remained the main airport for this city till 1962. With increase in passenger traffic at that airport a decision was taken to move the civilian operations into Palam Airport or Palam AFS which became IGIA in 1962 after it got renamed.
It was during World War II that Palam AFS came into operation as a RAF station. It became an Air Force station to be operated by the Indian Air Forces after country’s independence. Once commercial operations began and this airport started reaching the peak capacity of hourly 1300 passengers a need was felt for the expansion in 1970. This step was to cater to the 4 times increased air traffic. Construction of Palam terminal started and once Terminal 02 was built and inaugurated exclusive international terminal developed in 1986, and so was the case of renaming Palam AFS into Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
Present day IGI Airport is spread over 5,220 acres area. This airport was operated by the Indian Air Force as Palam AFS till its ownership and name changed and the airport became a commercial one. New management, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) took over the management of IGI in 2006.
Today, IGI airport operates through Terminal 3 and has already become the 8th largest passenger terminal in the world which is a major distinction for this airport. It has received many awards like 4th best airport award in terms of handling 15-25 million passenger category, best improved airport in Asia-Pacific Region and 2nd best airport in the world that handle 25-40 million passengers amongst others.
IGI having developed to largest airport in the country from the erstwhile Palam AFS has two parallel runways besides near-parallel runway 11/29 with 14,794 ft., length and equipped with CAT IIIB ILS on each side while runway 10/28 of 12,795 ft., and auxiliary runway 09/27 of 13,780 ft., also operates to the best extent. The runways have distinction of only runways in the entire South Asia which are equipped with the CAT III-B instrument landing systems.