Passengers may have to wait for another month to use the arrival hall of the new international terminal at Chennai airport.
A shortage of manpower from the Customs department has stalled the opening of the arrival hall, officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said. At present, both the old and the new international terminals are in use – passengers use the new terminal for departures, and the old one for arrivals.
“Unless we get sufficient Customs staff members, we can’t operate the new arrival hall. We have already sought additional manpower, and as soon as we get that, the hall can become operational,” said an AAI official.
However, Customs officials said they would be required to provide more staff members only if the AAI plans to move into the new arrival hall in a phased manner, as it did with the departures.
“If they relocate to the new terminal in a day [and close down the old terminal], then we can make do with the existing staff. If we have to manage both the old and new halls simultaneously, then double the manpower may be required,” said a Customs official.
Two years ago, AAI officials had indicated that they would need more Customs staff members to handle arrivals, but the Customs department hasn’t received any written communication ever since, he added.
“We have only the bare minimum of staff members and in fact, we have asked for additional staff and sought sanction from the finance ministry, but we haven’t got it as yet,” said the official.
Chennai airport’s modernisation project that cost over Rs. 2,000 crore was launched in 2008, but the new terminals were inaugurated in January this year and commissioned several months later.
The new international terminal was thrown open in August with just a few departures, and it was only in November that departure operations became fully functional.