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Demand constantly ahead of capacity…

For the past 50 months, the Indian Aviation industry has seen double-digit, month-over-month growth, and this trend continues. To facilitate this growth, infrastructure development needs to go hand-in-hand.
Chennai was once the gateway for entire south India, and even today Tamil Nadu is unique with four International Airports spread across the state. In 2017-18, the Chennai terminal crossed 20 million passenger handling capacity for the first time. To complement this growth, the Airport Authority of India is in the process of building a new terminal building.
“A new terminal with parking bays for aircraft and a multi-level car parking facility to park 2000 cars is being set up at the cost of Rs 2500 crore. This will increase our passenger handling capacity to 30 million. This is expected to be completed by June 2020, but by the time we develop this, the airport will reach its saturation! So the bottom line is, a new airport for Chennai is inevitable,” said G Chandramouli, Airport Director, Chennai, Airports Authority of India.
Chandramouli pointed to several enhancements that are being done in this operational airport to handle the ever increasing traffic. The current airside, capacity at Chennai is to control 36 aircraft per hour. But the airport even at peak could handle only around 30 aircraft. Though there is an additional capacity, parking of aircraft poses a problem. Chandramouli explained how they are tackling this: “we have additional parking that is quite far removed from the terminal. At present, aircraft do not prefer it as it takes time to transfer passengers and luggage from there to the terminal. To address this, we are in the process of designing a tunnel between the far away parking and the terminal. High-speed circular trains can transfer passengers and luggage. We are in the process of calling an expression of interest for fixing a consultant. The tunnel can get completed in three years.
“Rapid exit taxiways are under construction. This will help reduce runway occupation time of aircraft thus increasing the aircraft handling capacity. “We are also looking to reduce the truck movement within the airport. We are working with the Tamil Nadu government to get land to create a fuel farm. Trucks can load the oil in the farm tanks; from there, through pipes, fuel can be transferred to aircraft,” said Chandramouli.
Understanding the importance of cargo traffic, AAI in a proactive manner has launched a company, AAI Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company Ltd. This functionally and administratively independent organisation will provide a multi-modal logistics network. “This will bring back Chennai’s legacy as a cargo handling port. We have currently added cold storage facilities and are working to clear cargo within 2 hours from the earlier 4 to 7 days,” said Chandramouli.

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