Chennai’s Shiny New Airport

While the new domestic terminal at Chennai airport, with a capacity to handle ten million passengers per annum, is gearing up to start operations by July, the expanded international terminal will be in ready only by August, it was reported. The five-level domestic terminal (Basement, Arrival, Mezzanine, Departure, VIP levels) spans 72,614 sq m. It has seven gates, 52 check-in counters and eight e-ticketing counters. Terminal 2 is equipped to handle 3,300 passengers an hour.

The new Domestic Terminal 2, is an elegant modern structure, is defined by its dramatic twin wing-like hovering roofs providing 300-meter long, column free space with vertical gardens are visible throughout the terminal. The building volume is clearly divided into the landside and airside programmed operations and spaces connected with a central security checkpoint for departure as well as two glass bridges on either side of the building for arriving passengers.

The new terminals are to be connected by an elevated corridor about one kilometer in length. The terminal buildings are being equipped with wide ranging facilities like free telephone in security hold area, special assistance for physically handicapped passengers, reserved parking, executive lounges, assistance counters, prepaid taxi and car rental counters, infant care lobby, free medical facility, auto vending machines for snacks, duty free shops, banks, ATM counters, foreign exchange counters, concessionaries, communications desk and more.

The price for various services at Chennai Airport may see a 90 per cent hike as Airports Authority of India has proposed a User Development Fee (UDF) of ` 160 and ` 500 on domestic and international passengers, respectively.

A delay of about 18 months in getting the Government nod for importing an aerobridge from Indonesia is one reason why the opening of the modernised Chennai airport has been delayed. The trial runs, which were scheduled for earlier this year, were also postponed because the 110 KV power lines were laid by the TNEB only at the end of March. After this, 45 days of equipment testing were needed.

Now that a domestic arrival has completed the first trial run, the next challenge will be to handle a departure. Once they are fully tested and capable, all the operations can be shifted from the old terminal within a month and the international terminal will be shut for 4-6 months for renovation after which it will have to be reopened, an airport official is quoted as saying.

The work of providing walkalators and proposed multi-level car parking area shall be taken up in Phase II. Additionally, the metro station at Chennai airport is also under way and the value of the project, built over an 17300 Sqm area, is estimated at ` 51 crore. The metro station shall be connected by a link tube perpendicular to the main glass tube to have a direct access for passengers to both the terminals. Airports Authority of India has agreed to carry out the Metro Station work on behalf of Chennai Metro Rail Ltd and work shall commence by end of May 2012. Reports indicate that unlike in Delhi, the metro connection will not go right into the airport. The Airports Authority of India is also in discussions with CMRL to designate metro stations where passengers can check in their bags.

According to a source at the airport, they are just waiting for the CM’s office and the Ministry of Civil Aviation to decide on a date for the official inauguration.

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