Sunday, January 14, 2018

Revised flight plan for Chennai airport, again

Chennai: Saturday morning was chaotic at the Chennai airport as many flights were delayed or cancelled in the heavy smog caused by festive Bhogi bonfires. But the airport with an unenviable public image of leaky roofs, cracking glass panels, collapsing false ceilings and multiple bird hits is finally gearing up for a radical overhaul in the coming months.

The modernisation project comes five years after the airport underwent its Phase I expansion.

Soon after the announcement was made, doubts were expressed over whether the Anna International Airport needed another massive investment of ₹2,587 crore only years after nearly the same amount had been spent for the Phase I development of the airport in 2013. With the airport growing at 10-15% annually, as per statistics provided by Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials, the expansion and re-modification of the Chennai airport has become an immediate need for the city. A report by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) in 2017 reiterates the need for a second airport for the city as well.

“In Chennai, the site for a second airport has not yet been finalised, which means that operations are still several years away,” the report says.

The proposed Phase II modernisation will require the old T2 (Kamaraj Domestic) and T3 (Anna International Airport) terminals to be pulled down and reconstructed. The existing domestic and international terminals, T1 and T4 respectively, will be modified. The project also calls for the construction of additional parking bays, a travelator and a multi-level car parking facility.

Since the existing terminals have been mocked for their poor design and engineering-related issues, officials say the Phase II expansion focusses on them. AECOM, a firm that has been a consultant to Singapore's celebrated Changi Airport, says it will recreate that experience for passengers here as well.

“This time, there certainly won't be issues like cracking or breaking glass panels, as we have designed the terminals to suit the prevalent climatic conditions,” an official of the firm said. “Also, as airports serve as the gateway for a city, we will showcase Chennai's culture. We plan to have an array of murals and statues displaying classical and folk art. We have given priority to Tanjore paintings as well.”
14/01/18 Sunitha Sekar/The Hindu

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