Commissioning of the new international terminal at the Chennai airport will be delayed by at least another three months, according to airport sources.

Airport sources said the new terminal has problems relating to the ramps and non-completion of some of the works. Added to this, the shortage of manpower experienced by Customs authorities, would further confound the issue, they said.

A senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said the new international terminal is not a stand-alone terminal, unlike the new domestic one. The AAI had integrated both the existing and new international terminal buildings to cope with the increasing passenger movement. The buildings have to be operated simultaneously. However, Customs authorities have expressed difficulty in functioning from both the new and the old international terminal buildings due to inadequate staff strength.

A senior Customs official at the airport said in the case of Customs, restrictions were already there in appointing new persons, and the government was very restrictive in sanctioning new posts.

Another Customs officer said, under the existing system, the Customs officials were operating in two shifts and a minimum of 17 persons were required per shift.

The Customs authorities work in four batches, with their functions spread over international arrival, departure and baggage scanning at both arrival and departure areas. The existing staff members functioning at different places — in both the new and the existing terminal buildings — would not be desirable, he said.

Nearly a year ago, Customs authorities had sent a proposal to the finance ministry for recruiting new personnel to man the integrated terminals. The recruitment has to be cleared by both union finance and personnel ministries. Already, restructuring of the Customs department is in the pipeline, so new recruitments would soon take place, the officer said.

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