Confusion continues to rule over the readiness of the proposed new terminal at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata. While expectation is rife that the modern facilities will be thrown open to the public on January 23, Netaji’s birthday, Airports Authority of India (AAI) is maintaining complete silence on the progress of work and date of opening.

Meanwhile, both domestic as well as international carriers, are fretting over the fact that the new terminal may only be partially operational.

“There may be chances that a portion of the terminal gets opened initially. But, it is not possible to operate in such a situation where half of our flights will operate from the old terminal and the rest from the new terminal, as it requires huge manpower,” a senior official of Jet Airways told Business Line.

“The AAI has not even announced an official opening date to the users (carriers),” he added.

According to Tom Wright, General Manager, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, Dragonair, there may be a situation where all the facilities would not be available from day one. “However, I have not been briefed about it so far,” Wright said.

Missed deadlines

Developed by the Thai-Indian consortium of ITD-ITD Cementation, the Rs 2,500 crore new modernised terminal has missed at least three deadlines for its opening since August 2011. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s plan to gift a new terminal before Durga Puja was also undone .

B. P. Sharma, Regional Director of AAI, said: “We are in the process. We are awaiting clearance from the (civil aviation) ministry.” Carriers are also worried over the slow progress in equipment installations.

According to the Jet official, the upcoming terminal does not yet have lounges for the business class flyers. Only six of the proposed 18 aerobridges have come up so far. Carriers have yet to be offered back-offices. “Given such a progress, the January 23 opening (date) looks very unlikely ,” the official said.

ayan.pramanik@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 1, 2012)
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