Thursday, October 27, 2016

Chennai airport is choked, badly needs a second one to prevent air jam, says AAI chief

Chennai Airport is "completely choked" and the city urgently requires a second airport if it wants to avoid a Mumbai-like air jam in the coming years. And this comes from Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra.

Mohapatra told TOI on Wednesday that AAI has been requesting the Tamil Nadu government to give a site in Chennai for the second airport. "In Chennai, runway extension is not possible and the airport is almost choked. It is approaching saturation," he said.

The airport now sees about 400 flight movements (landings and take-offs). Lack of space to expand Chennai airport's runway means that the flight handling capacity cannot be increased. Given that only one runway can be used at a time, airlines are scrambling for slots during peak hours. As a result, airlines complain they are unable to get desired slots in Chennai. "The capacity crunch limits slot availability and that, in turn, means people don't get benefit of more connections which will lead to greater competition and lower fares," said an airline official.

AAI recently increased Chennai's hourly runway capacity from 29 aircraft movements to 33. In this winter schedule, Chennai was the only airport that increased capacity. But any further increase will be difficult. A proposal to have a second airport has been hanging fire for almost ten years. "We have been asking Tamil Nadu government to decide on the site. AAI does not buy or acquire land. The state government has to give us encroachment-free land where we build the airport," he said.
27/10/16 Saurabh Sinha/The Times Of India