An Airport Users' Consultative Committee has been constituted at Thiruvananthapuram international airport as per the decision of the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) to hold discussions with the user agencies and other stake-holders on projects involving investment by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the development of the airport and ancillary facilities.

Disclosing this at a press conference here on Friday, Airport Director G. Chandramouli said the first meeting of the consultative committee, mandatory for the AERA controlled airports in the country, will be held by this month end.

The AAI had already sent letters to those shortlisted from the hospitality industry, travel trade, prominent citizens, local chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry, and other stake-holders. Mr. Chandrmouli said the consultative committee would be a ‘representative forum of users' and they would elect a chairman at the first meeting to be held here.

Already, the AAI is collecting Rs.575 as user development fee from all international passengers flying out from here. The AERA Appellate Tribunal, headed by former judge of the Supreme Court Arijit Pasayat, has reduced the fee to Rs.575 from Rs.755 initially proposed by the AERA.

Domestic flights

The Airport Director said domestic flight operations would be shifted from the existing terminal to the adjacent old international terminal by middle of next month. The AAI has refurbished the interiors of the two-storey old terminal without major expenditure. Till a new domestic terminal was constructed adjacent to the new terminal, he said domestic operations would be carried out from here.

Compared to the 5,400 sq. m. in the existing terminal, the new terminal would have 13,330 sq. m. of floor area and two aerobridges. The passenger handling capacity would be 4,000 compared to the 250 in the existing terminal. The delay was over the setting up of the mandatory restaurant, furnishing of the airline offices, and mandatory inspection by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, he said.

The first floor had been earmarked as the security-hold area. Passengers would have to take the steps or the elevator to reach the floor for security check. From there, they could move to the aircraft through one of the two aerobridges. The aerobridges would enable hassle-free movement of travellers between the terminal and the aircraft. But smaller aircraft could be docked with them.

New flights

The Airport Director said there were 2,400 passenger arrival and departures daily from the domestic terminal and the aircraft movement was 30 per day. The airport had registered a 12 per cent growth this year compared to the last fiscal year and in the domestic sector it was 7 per cent.

Spice Jet was all set to commence daily operations from here linking Kochi and Chennai. Foreign airlines had approached to increase the cargo sorties, he said. The AAI had plans to convert the existing domestic terminal into a convention centre and a request for proposal followed by expression of interest would be called soon.

ATC automation

Indra, an air traffic control technology developed by the Spanish Information Technology and Defence Systems Company, will be installed at the Thiruvananthapuram Air Traffic Control as part of a project to upgrade air traffic management systems with advanced automation systems.

The hardware has arrived and the work on installing the 319,000 Euro Indra automation system, which would meet all requirements concerning air traffic safety, would commence soon. The facility is to come up in the visitor's gallery at the old terminal and it would be linked to the adjacent air traffic control (ATC) tower. Along with ATC automation, the Airport Surveillance Radar and the Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR), which are 16 years old, are to be replaced.

The Airport Director said the AAI had prepared a plan for constructing a building for the ATC at a new location, developing the taxiways, and modernising the fire station at the airport.