Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel inaugurated the re-modelled passenger terminal at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport here on Sunday.

However, the flight operations from the new terminal will start only next month since a few ground works are yet to be completed.

Built at a cost of more than Rs. 300 crore and modelled on the one at Singapore's Changi Airport, the terminal will give the airport a major facelift. The terminal, spread over 41,000 square metres of floor space, can handle 100 domestic and more than 20 international flights a day.

Besides the state-of-the art departure baggage conveyors and the carousal-type arrival conveyors, the terminal will boast a 410-metre-long travelator — which is similar to an escalator but running parallel to the ground — will provide an underground link for passengers from the new terminal to the existing terminal, helping them avoid the drudgery of walking a long distance.

With 12 bays (apron), four aerobridges and 32 check-in centres, the airport will be able to handle 80 lakh passengers a year, against the present traffic of 27 lakh passengers passing through the airport every year.

Mr. Patel said the Centre had taken up a programme to overhaul the facilities for air passenger movement. “On Saturday, a major facility was thrown open to the public in Delhi, while the same is being done in Ahmedabad.”

The upgrade, however, would cost the travellers from Ahmedabad more: the domestic travellers will now have to shell out Rs.110 more a ticket in airport development charge and the international passengers Rs. 415 more.

Mr. Patel also agreed to consider the possibility of re-starting the flight to London from Ahmedabad, a service which was discontinued some time ago for lack of patronage. The demand for re-starting the service was made by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Unions Ministers from the State Dinsha Patel, Bharatsinh Solanki and Tushar Chaudhary, who took part in the function. The Civil Aviation Minister also agreed to consider Mr. Dinsha Patel's demand for installing a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at the airport.

Dr. Tushar Chaudhary, who hails from Surat, requested that the Surat airport be provided with better facilities.

Earlier, Mr. Modi sought the Centre's support for the State government's efforts at promoting inter-city air travel within the State, for which a State-owned company was floated.

Gujarat had 20 airports and airstrips, five of them in Kutch district alone, he said, and these facilities could be well utilised for popularising inter-city air travel.

In response, Mr. Praful Patel said his Ministry would consider the plan, if it was economically viable.