The arrivals hall at Chennai airport’s new international terminal is yet to be commissioned.
The reasons quoted for the delay vary from lack of manpower to delays in construction of a baggage ramp.
Seventeen months after the inauguration of the new facility, while the domestic terminal is used for both departures and arrivals, the international terminal is used only for departures.
According to some officials of Airports Authority of India (AAI), the lack of Customs personnel has delayed the opening of the arrivals hall.
“We are waiting for additional manpower from the Customs end. Once we get it, the new hall will be commissioned. But, with the elections just over, it may take more time for the issue to be sorted,” said an AAI official from New Delhi.
Though permission for additional sanctions was sought from officials in New Delhi, they have not received a response yet, said the official.
The modernisation of Chennai airport began in 2008 with a January 2011 deadline. Two years past the deadline, with the cost revised from Rs. 1,808 crore to a little over Rs. 2,000 crore, the new domestic and international terminals were inaugurated in January 2013, and thrown open for use in April and August, respectively.
The requirement of additional staff is only because the shift from the old to the new arrivals hall is being planned in a phased manner.
“If the arrivals are moved to the new terminal the same day, there may not be a requirement for more staff,” said a Customs official.
“We may get the sanction in about three months. But I don’t think the manpower problem has caused the delay; they still have to finish the construction of the new baggage ramp,” said the official.
The construction of an additional ramp that facilitates the movement of baggage between the aircraft and the new terminal is yet to be completed. It has been planned at a cost of Rs. 10 crore and will be a key component of full-fledged operations at the terminal.