Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Surat: From makeshift shed to modern airport

Surat: Today the Surat international airport sprawls over 784.37 acres and boasts of modern infrastructure and world class facilities. Just a decade and half back, the picture was anything but perfect.

The airport at the Diamond City was built by the government in early 1970s and till early 2000s it was being operated from a makeshift, cement sheet-roofed structure. Until 2005 the airport was connected to the main road by a kutcha road.

During the monsoon season, passengers had to wade through a flooded road to access the airport. Not just the road but also the airport used to get submerged in rainwater, which resulted in a flight being diverted in 2004. The airport shed had makeshift cabins for the officials.

Things started to change for good in 2007. The airport shifted to a new building and the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower too became operational during the same time. Since then, the airport kept growing. In 2019-2020 Surat airport, managed by the Airport Authority of India (AAI), handled 1.58 million domestic and international passengers. Presently, Air India, Alliance Air, SpiceJet, Indigo, GoFirst, Star Air and Ventura AirConnect are operating flights from the airport.

Surat airport director Aman Saini told TOI that the under-construction terminal building is expected to be ready by the next year. “Currently we have capacity to attend to around 500 passengers during the peak hours. Once the new terminal building becomes operational, we will be able to handle around 800 passengers.

“New terminal building will have facilities including an in-line baggage scanner, duty free shops, passenger lounge for international travelers, escalators, and special facilities for physically challenged passengers,” Saini said. From having just basic facilities a decade and half back, the airport at present operates few of the biggest jets including A320, A321, Boeing 737-800. It runs daily flights to Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Bhavnagar, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Patna, Bhuvneshwar and Kishangarh.

07/12/21 Mehul Jani/Times of India

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