Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signalled the start of construction on the Rs167bn ($2.59bn) Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) in the state of Maharashtra.

The airport is being developed by City Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) in collaboration with GVK Power and Infrastructure (GVKPIL).

Last month, GVKPIL signed the concession agreement with CIDCO to establish a special purpose vehicle (SPV) known as Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIAL), which will be responsible for building the new facility.

GVKPIL owns a 74% stake in the project through its subsidiary Mumbai International Airport (MIAL), while the remaining is held by CIDCO.

Featuring parallel runways, the NMIA is likely to handle up to 80 flights every hour once both runways become operational.

“The new international airport will welcome ten million travellers per annum.”

CIDCO believes that the first flight will be in December 2019 once the first phase of construction concludes.

Upon becoming operational, the new international airport will welcome ten million travellers per annum.

Modi said that India’s aviation sector is growing significantly, and there is a sharp increase in the number of people flying. This would make quality infrastructure in the aviation sector of prime importance.

The PM added that the union government has introduced an aviation policy, which is helping to change the sector.

He emphasised that a strong aviation sector also gives more economic opportunities and better connectivity leads to more tourists coming to India.

The new facility airport was originally planned in 1997 as a secondary airport to meet the growing needs of Mumbai with an investment of Rs30bn ($464.7m).