India wants to transform its airports into sixth-freedom hubsBack to Forum
Sixth-freedom refers to those travellers carried by an airline of a third country but via its hub.
Earlier this year when I reported on India’s mammoth orders for new aircraft I alluded to the fact that the nation would turn to sixth-freedom traffic to fill the additional capacity, extra flights and so on.
Today The Economic Times reports that this is exactly what India wants to do.
Mind you to develop a major hub airport takes time. Crucially it needs the backing of the government, the national airlines and of course the airports themselves.
But India has the right geographical location.8 Nov 2023
This might take years down the road to implement. Current transit procedures at DEL/BOM are stressful & time consuming, and that is just int’l-int’l remaining airside. You are shepherded into a cramped holding pen, the airline representative disappears out of sight with your passport & boarding pass. You need to twiddle thumbs for his return with a new boarding pass (anything from ten minutes to an hour) while you wonder where he has gone, nobody around to answer queries while you anxiously wait, and you can’t even leave that area.
Int’l – domestic is worse as one needs to clear immigration & collect baggage at the first point of entry, exit arrivals & then re-enter the terminal at departure level, recheck-in baggage & go through security.
Domestic – Int’l is relatively easier as one can check in baggage to the final destination, but even here one needs to clear security twice and immigration at the DEL/BOM hub which between 10 PM to 1 AM can take over an hour.
And as the article referred to, transiting between terminals necessitates physically going out and self-transferring. There are several other irritants too, like inability to access airport WiFi without an Indian SIM, chaotic pre-paid taxi facilities and the usual touts as soon as one steps outside.
Could some India regulars please provide an update, as this was the situation pre covid.9 Nov 2023
As a frequent flier to BLR, everything woodpecker wrote above remains the reason why I always fly into BLR straight from an intl transit point. Fares thru del and BOM are very appetising at times but I’d rather avoid all this hassle.
My wife flew BLR – DEL – LHR – SEA post Covid ( Vistara, BA and AA Biz class) and hated the transit experience at Delhi.9 Nov 2023
I once had a 7 hour transit , cant remember if it was Delhi or Mumbai but as it was 7 hours decided that i would forego a hotel and sleep in the lounge, bad plan! Arrived at international from UK around 1 am and the domestic terminal was 30 min taxi away. At the entrance was told I was not allowed in without a boarding pass and would have to wait outside until check in desk for my flight opened. due to the timing could not get a local hotel and I ended up sleeping on the dirt outside domestic terminal! after that i swore never again, and i have not
1 user thanked author for this post.9 Nov 2023
I came off the Swiss International flight ZRH-DEL in First and was transiting to Thai down to Bangkok about a year ago. On the return, I flew SIN-BOM on Singapore Airlines in the new A380 Suite, connecting later on to BOM-ZRH in Swiss First. I thought it would be a breeze… It was not. On the contrary, it was painful and unfortunately, lived up to every preconceived notion I had of Indian bureaucracy and effectiveness.
For this vision to work, I would start by making the international-to-international transit seamless with the infrastructure they have today, provide a much better experience. It shouldn’t be that hard.9 Nov 2023
Most of the reply is true to some extent, but major gateway airports improved a lot in the past few years.
International and domestic transfer are seamless now in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata as it is same terminal (mostly except in Delhi the low cost domestic is different terminal).
One can buy lounge access with reasonable price (around $30) and these are 24 hours so one can nap on a sofa.
Luggage from international to domestic has to be collected due to immigration requirements, but one can quickly recheck without going out of terminal. And domestic to international can be through booked to final destination.
The above luggage through booking is possible for same Indian airlines like Air India or Indigo and not possible with international airlines.9 Nov 2023
Air India related: 4 more new destinations/routes announced – Boston, LA, Ho Chi Minh and Phuket15 Nov 2023
Under current Indian operating procedures for transit passengers it could never become a transit Hub. Like you say it takes forever to do an international transit the bureaucracy is amazing.30 Nov 2023
I won’t encourage relying on a comfortable experience at Delhi’s international terminal 3 Encalm lounge (maximum 2 hour stay) that feels more like the overcrowded Delhi railway station, the only one available except Air India lounge accessible by Star Alliance qualifying members. The Encalm lounges have been installed after presumably booting out the previous excellent Premium Plaza and ITC lounges.30 Nov 2023