Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Can there be a new sunrise for our airports?

Chennai:  It's 11pm. The domestic terminal of Chennai airport is winding up its day's business. A few red-eye flights are the only operation the terminal will see till dawn. But 35,000 to 40,000 feet over the city, the sky is busy. More than 300 flights — most of them A380 and wide-bodied jets — are cruising down from South East Asia on their route to the Middle East and Europe. But, none of them will land in Chennai, not even during an emergency, as the airport is yet to be ready to handle unexpected landing of giant planes that carry more than 500 passengers.

The four airports in the state — Chennai, Trichy, Coimbatore and Madurai — all in close proximity of less than an hour's flight, are well placed in peninsular India over which international air routes criss cross. However, airports in southern India are not in the scheme of things of airlines that operate intercontinental jets. Due to lack of political will and interest of the civil aviation ministry, Chennai and other airports in the state are not in a position to take advantage of the TN's geographical position to capitalise on the traffic.
Soon after two new terminals were opened at Chennai airport in 2013, the then chairman of Airports Authority of India (AAI) V P Agrawal announced plans to make Chennai a hub on the lines of Dubai and Singapore, inviting airlines to set up their base in Chennai.
03/10/17 V Ayyappan/Times of India