The new terminal at the rebuilt Mumbai international airport has put it in the category of one of the finest airports in the country. The father-son duo of GVK Group behind Terminal-2 tell The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta, on NDTV 24X7’s Walk the Talk, about the problems they faced, and the art that puts their airport apart
With its new terminal, the rebuilt Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai has to be one of the finest airports in the world. Mahindra & Mahindra CMD Anand Mahindra said that if there’s one terminal where he wants to be stranded, like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, it is this. The men behind the new airport are the father and son duo of G V K Reddy, Chairman of the GVK Group, and Sanjay. Tell us the story of how this became possible.
GVK: One of the impossible things to build an airport here in the city is that we had 2,000 acres of land that the government had given us, (but) out of that 50 per cent was occupied.
Partly slums and also government departments, like Air-India, Indian Airlines, police station, so many things. And when they wanted us to build this — actually it was impossible — they wanted us to expand the existing terminal and also to refurbish and operate the existing terminals. I was talking to Sanjay, this is only for 60 years for us (the lease period), and after 60 years, I’m not there, you’re not there, at least the airport will be made.
This is your crown jewel now?
GVK: Yes, the crown jewel… We started in 2009, within four years, we were able to make it happen. People living in Bombay city, even today, 50 per cent of them are not aware that a new terminal has come up.
It happened as if you had done it under cover.
GVK: Yes, it looks like that. That is something unimaginable.
There must have been many heartbreaks… This was supposed to have come up two years earlier. I’ll be punished for saying this, even Chhatrapati Shivaji got in the way.
Sanjay: When we came to the Mumbai airport in 2006, May 3 I remember, there was only one person I had along with me, because we didn’t know much about airport operations and we didn’t have much support. It was a huge challenge for the first few years, especially given that, as my father said, we had only 2,000