More passenger check-in counters, frisking booths and boarding gates have been introduced at the domestic departure terminal at Chennai airport to smoothen the transit experience for travellers.

Following the relocation of the domestic arrival section to a separate block, the security hold area in the departure zone has been re-engineered to accommodate the new facilities.

The interim measures carried out on available space would considerably ease inconvenience of the steadily increasing proportion of domestic passengers until operations are relocated to the new terminal by year-end, Chennai Airport Director E.P. Hareendranathan told reporters on Saturday.

The security hold area has been expanded by an additional 1,200 sq m to house six check-in counters, three more boarding gates, three frisking booths and shopping kiosks.

The ramp area has also been de-congested with the spacing out of boarding gates.

The domestic terminal now has 48 check-in counters, 12 frisking booths on ground and first floors and nine boarding gates.

The facilities, carried out on an estimated cost of Rs.25 lakh, are expected to ease up the human logjam during peak traffic hours (between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7.30 p.m.), Mr. Hareendranathan said.

While the number of aircraft has not increased over last year, there has been a 17 per cent increase in domestic passengers compared to 2010 figures.

In January, the number of passengers transiting through Chennai domestic terminal grossed 8 lakh and the numbers are expected to go up in the months ahead.

At present, five domestic airlines and 27 international air carriers operate services through Chennai airport clocking an average of “320 movements” every day, officials said.

“Self check-in”

The Airports Authority of India is also discussing with airlines the prospects of setting up “self check-in” counters where passengers travelling without baggage could pick up boarding passes and proceed directly to the security hold area.

Indian Airlines and Jet Airways already have set up such counters at the domestic terminal and more airliners could follow suit soon. The international terminal is also expected to get a sophisticated baggage screening system soon, Mr. Hareendranathan said. The Inland Baggage Screening System which is an intelligent system that simplifies luggage screening is likely to be trialled next week and could be operational by the end of the month.

The four-level security screening mechanism automatically maps baggage on a pair of conveyor belts and “rejects” bags by re-routing them along another belt without disrupting luggage movement on the primary conveyors.

The person at the workstation can clear the rejects allowing the bags to rejoin the primary conveyor belts or subject suspect baggage to the explosive trace detection test or bomb detection/disposal squads.