Despite the delay in commissioning, this terminal may not operate independently and the old terminal too may function simultaneously, say officials

Five months after it was inaugurated, the new international terminal at Chennai airport may be thrown open for public use in July.

Despite the delay in commissioning, this terminal may not operate independently. The old terminal too may function simultaneously, said an official of Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Airport director H.S. Suresh said, “While the departure operations may run at the same time in both the new and old international terminals, the arrival operations may continue in the old terminal.”

It may take nearly a month to shift the departure operations completely to the new terminal, he said.

“Immigration department has the required manpower but customs officials have some issues in shifting immediately to the new terminal and have sought more time. The main problem is they lack adequate manpower,” said the AAI official.

A new inline baggage scanner was transported to the Chennai airport from Srinagar recently. The installation of this system is underway and will be completed in ten days, he said.

“While the new terminal will have three inline scanners — two from the old terminal that will be shifted here and the new one from Srinagar — the old terminal will have just the standalone machines for baggage scanning,” he said.

Though the terminal may be up and running next month, the baggage ramp issue may haunt this building too, like it did the new domestic terminal.

In the international terminal, there is just one ramp, leading to the baggage-handling area, for both the entry and exit of battery-operated vehicles called tugs. So, the operators of the tugs would have to be very careful. Also, the movement of the tugs may be slower, said another AAI official.

Protest will not affect services

Airport operations would continue as normal on June 21, when the Airport Authority Employees’ Union (AAEU) has threatened to go on mass leave, said a press release from AAI, Chennai. Services wouldn’t be affected as a contingency plan would be implemented to manage the situation, an official said.

Several steps, including the deployment of ambulances from city hospitals and additional manpower from the city fire brigade to man the fire station at the airport have been taken, the press release said. Over 1,000 members of AAEU will go on mass leave to oppose the bid to privatise the airport.

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