‘Lobby against shifting domestic terminal to city side’

Air India (AI), the national carrier, has not been able to shift the departure of the daily flight to New Delhi from the domestic to the international terminal on the city side despite offering ‘through tagged in’ to flyers to destinations in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

The shifting of the AI 466 flight to the international terminal was taken at the highest level, with the knowledge of the MP and it had not been successful, airline sources told The Hindu.

A ‘lobby’ working against the shifting of the domestic terminal to the city side and the pressure on the authorities by those running shops and hotels on the Shanghumughom side was being cited as the main reasons for the delay.

Commencing the flight from the international terminal would enable flyers to complete the Customs and immigration formalities here itself after checking in. This would benefit senior citizens proceeding to long-haul destinations. Foreign tourists would also benefit as the airport had tourist visa on arrival (T-VoA) facility for those coming from select nations for holidaying.

Those proceeding to New Delhi on the early morning flight, which had a huge patronage, would not need to travel up to Shanghumughom. From the security, the Governor, Chief Minister, and other VIPs used the AI flight to proceed to New Delhi. In the national capital, the international and domestic flights of AI operated from the T-3 terminal.

The foreign carriers from the Middle East, Colombo, and Singapore to the city provided the check-in facility to flyers here itself. Airline sources said senior citizens proceeding to the U.S. and Europe shunned the national carrier solely due to this.

The A-321 aircraft that arrived from New Delhi at 10.30 p.m. as an international flight at the new terminal went back the next day as AI 466 from the domestic terminal.

For this, the aircraft was towed using a tractor from the Chakka side to the Shanghumughom side once the passengers disembarked. The services of two engineering staff and a ground-handling operator were needed for this.