Ban at new domestic terminal will be extended to new international one

Soon, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) might start losing around Rs. 50 lakh in a month, earned from charging visitors’ entry at Chennai airport.

Visitors will not be let inside the new international terminal, which might be thrown open for use shortly, AAI officials said. It will probably operate alongside the old international terminal for a couple of months.

Visitors’ entry, which is allowed in the old international terminal, is banned in the new domestic terminal.

At present, the entry charge for the old international terminal is Rs. 60 per person. For the old domestic terminal, it used to be Rs. 30.

“Of the nearly Rs. 50 lakh that we used to get, 20 per cent is lost since visitors’ entry in the domestic terminal was barred; the remaining 80 percent will also be lost once the new international terminal is fully operationalised,” said an AAI official.

Airport sources said, on an average, there are at least 500 visitors every day at the old international terminal, and on weekends the number is much higher.

Some passengers feel the move to ban visitors’ entry may not go down well among first-time flyers and the elderly.

“Last month, my mother who is wheelchair bound flew to Mumbai, for the first time alone. I didn’t know that visitors were not allowed inside the domestic terminal. She became nervous and refused to go till I convinced her. The CISF officials stopped us right at the entrance and it took a little while before one of the airlines staff came to help her,” said Nandakumar Menon, a resident of Velachery.

AAI officials, however, said the number of visitors to the airport has come down over the years, “Hardly anyone comes to see off domestic passengers. It is only the international terminal that draws quite a bit of crowd during the nights. One of the reasons for prohibiting the visitors is to enhance security in the terminal. Some people who see off the passengers loiter in the airport and cause nuisance sometimes,” said another AAI official.

Cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad have visitors’ area and the charge is Rs. 80 and Rs. 100 per person, respectively. In Delhi, the facility is present only in the T3 terminal and visitors are charged Rs. 100.

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