Staff shortage, equipment trouble delaying launch

A shortage of staff for security, Customs and immigration duties and equipment trouble could delay the opening of the modernised international terminal at the Chennai airport.

According to an official of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), manpower shortage at the Central Industrial Security Force, Customs and Immigration departments could delay the launch.

There were a few teething problems with the in-line baggage scanner, aircraft parking bays and aero bridge for wide-body aircraft that needed to be sorted out, said the official who did not want to be named.

While H.S. Suresh, Director, Chennai Airport, confirmed that manpower was an issue, he was confident the international terminal would be fully operational in 15-20 days. “We are talking to all the stakeholders and are confident of opening the terminal fully by month-end,” he told Business Line.

At the existing international terminal, there are 1,033 CISF officials, and an additional 126 people are required. Around 80 Customs officials are required for the new terminal. By the end of this month the building will be operational provided all the airlines and Customs are fully ready to shift to the new building. Restaurants and other shops were being placed soon, said Harbajan Singh, Assistant General Manager (PR), Chennai Airport.

Action was also being taken on the basis of feedback from the first departing flights, as far as possible, said Singh.

Trial run

A live trial run was conducted at the new international terminal on Monday night when an IndiGo flight to Singapore took off at 10 pm.

The AAI spent Rs 2,015 crore on new terminals for domestic and international travellers, which were inaugurated in January. The domestic terminal started operations in April.

The decision to upgrade the Chennai airport was taken in 2007 and a string of issues relating to land acquisition, power supply, delays in tendering for food and beverage stalls and controversy over ramp design have held up the project. The new domestic and international terminals are spread over 1.33 lakh sq m.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 16, 2013)
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