In 2014-15, Chennai finished as the fourth busiest airport in India in terms of passenger traffic after it handled 14.29 million passengers. The airport is expected to reach saturation by 2016–17, after which a second airport will be needed.
The first passenger terminal was built in Meenambakkam. A new domestic terminal was constructed in 1985 at Tirusulam and the international terminal was commissioned in 1989. In 2001, Chennai Airport became the first international airport in the country to receive ISO 9001-2000 certification.
The airport was modernised and expanded in 2013, with the construction of a new domestic terminal and the international terminals. Built over an area of 1.33 lakh sq.km at a cost of Rs 2325 crore, both the terminals are adjacently located.
Chennai and Kolkata missed out on the accelerated growth of telecom by not being included as part of the Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL). These metros missed the opportunity again when the time for privatising airports came. Delhi and Mumbai opted for privatisation leading to quick expansion of and excellent facilities in their airports.
Chennai and Kolkata opted to stay in the public sector. After much delays, shortcomings in construction and cost over-runs, the government is now inviting private partners. Meanwhile, despite all this, in 2014-15, Chennai finished as the fourth busiest airport in India. The airport is expected to reach saturation soon after which we will need a second airport; that could be Sriperumbudur.
Tamil Nadu is home to four international airports. The Coimbatore International Airport is the 15th largest airport in India in terms of total aircraft movement, 18th largest in terms of passengers handled and the 13th biggest in terms of cargo handled.
The Madurai International Airport (1957) is located about 12 km from the Madurai railway station. In a historic event, two chartered flights from Malaysia landed at the airport on 25 August 2012, making them the first international aircraft that landed in the temple city. The first commercial international flight started the following month with SpiceJet commencing its maiden service to Colombo.
The Trichy International Airport, established by the British during World War II is one of the fastest growing international airports in India. The airport is the third largest in the state in passenger and cargo traffic after Chennai and Coimbatore.