India's overcrowded financial capital was unveiling its long-awaited two billion US dollar new airport terminal today, an ambitious, art-filled space that developers hope will be a showcase success in a country struggling to modernise inadequate infrastructure that is holding back economic growth.
The project was dogged by political disputes, regulatory snarls and difficulty reclaiming more than 300 acres of airport land near the runway occupied by tens of thousands of squatters.
The Mumbai airport's developer and operator, a public-private venture led by India's GVK Group, is betting that passengers will find the result worth the wait for its sleek and airy design, abundant greenery and some 7,000 pieces of Indian art.
The art works make up the centrepiece of the terminal, embedded in a 1.9-mile-long internal wall that runs along the departure and arrival gates of the four-story building. The check-in facility has a gleaming white, 11-acre roof with dozens of skylights that resemble the plumage of a peacock, India's national bird. The 700,000-square-foot retail and gateway areas feature more than 1,000 lotus-flower-shaped chandeliers.
Aiming high, Mumbai International Airport Ltd. has declared the facility will be "one of the best airports in the world that consistently delights the passengers."