User development fee will be less than in private airports: AAI

The new domestic and international terminals at the Chennai airport will become operational within a month after the Airports Authority of India (AAI) sorts out certain issues with airlines and other user agencies, said V.P. Agrawal, Chairman, AAI here on Wednesday.

The new terminals will be inaugurated on Thursday by Vice-President Hamid Ansari.

Mr. Agrawal said the AAI had already raised the issues with the airlines. “As and when things are ready, the terminals will become operational in a phased manner,” he said. The project’s original cost was estimated to be Rs. 1,808 crore though it was finally completed at Rs. 2,015 crore. The project was completed in 36 months and was delayed by more than a year, he added.

The AAI was trying to get GRIHA-III rating for the new terminals at the Chennai airport, which will consume less energy and less quantity of water. The structure of the terminals, which are a flagship project of the AAI, is unique, he claimed.

When asked about the problem posed by a slope in the baggage loading point in the international terminal, Mr Agrawal said the slope was located at the basement of the terminal, which was designed as per international standards. Ideally, only battery-operated state-of-the-art vehicles were to be used on the slope. However, farm tractors are now used by a majority of the ground handling agencies, which caused many technical glitches, he said.

Answering a question on the revenue from the new terminals, Mr. Agrawal said all the new airports in the country have come under a regulatory regime. The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority held consultations with stakeholders and the conclusions were published on its website nearly three months ago. “A User Development Fee will be introduced at Chennai. However, it will be quite less when compared that levied in private airports in the country,” Mr. Agrawal said.

The Chairman said that the while AAI will not privatise the Chennai airport, certain services in the new terminals would be outsourced. These included conservancy, baggage handling and conveyor belt system.

The AAI had commissioned Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation to do a study on making the Chennai airport a hub. The organisation had provided some suggestions, one of which was the increase of the passenger capacity to 40 million once the older terminals were renovated and integrated with the new ones. Beyond that, the only possibility was another airport.

Though the work on the expansion of the secondary runway has been completed, it could not be operated as certain obstructions were yet to be removed. This was the State government’s job and the AAI was conducting discussions with the authorities concerned. These would soon be resolved and the secondary runway will become operational, Mr. Agrawal added.

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