While the new domestic terminal at Chennai airport is gearing up to start operations by July, the expanded international terminal will be in ready only by August.

Trial runs at the new domestic terminal began on Monday with 128 passengers arriving from a Kingfisher flight from Mumbai being guided through the new building for baggage check-out. One more trial for departure will happen in 7-10 days; this will be the real challenge as it involves check-in and boarding, said an airport official.

The five-level domestic terminal 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 existing terminal handles 2,200 passengers.

The State Government is looking at a grand inauguration of the domestic terminal by mid-June. “The Airports Authority Chairman has spoken to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary. We are waiting for official dates,” said the official. But this will only be a soft launch; operations will start in full swing only 15 days thereafter, he said.

Some work is still pending at the international terminal, which is being expanded by 59,300 sq m. “Offices for international airlines have not yet been allocated. This could take up to August.”

The three-level international terminal will have 52 check-in counters and 18 immigration counters.

The Chennai airport expansion project also involves extension of the secondary runway (which is currently 2.07 km long) by 1.03 km. The runway is ready but awaiting final clearance from the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation, as a few cellular towers are still in the way. Five towers have been displaced already; three more have to be removed around the Trident Hotel area, said the airport official.

There has also been delay in the arrival of seven aerobridges from Indonesia. “This could take two-three months. We have to manage with the existing seven aerobridges.”

The new car park can accommodate 1,200 vehicles. But the multi-level car parking, which was promised during the conception of this project, will happen only in phase 2. The project cost has gone up from the original outlay of Rs 1,808 crore to Rs 2,015 crore.

Traffic at the expanded airport is expected to go up to 23 million passengers by 2020 (16 million domestic and 7 million international) from 12 million now.

(This article was published on May 3, 2012)
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