Vice-President Hamid Ansari dedicated the new domestic and international terminals at the Chennai airport to the nation here on Thursday.
Speaking after inaugurating the terminals, Mr. Ansari said the airport was the premier international gateway and air hub for South India, besides being the third biggest airport in the country. The importance of Chennai as a national and international destination was well established.
It attained greater importance in view of the country’s ‘Look East’ policy because of which greater economic and commercial integration with the countries of East Asia and South East Asia was taking place at a rapid pace. Consequently, passenger and freight traffic to and from these countries was bound to rise.
The existing terminals had a capacity to handle six million domestic and three million international passengers. With the upgrade and expansion, the new international and domestic terminals could handle an additional four million international and 10 million domestic passengers per annum. Ajit Singh, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, said the two terminals and the airside facilities were upgraded at the Chennai airport. Secondary runway was extended by 1,032 metres by constructing a concrete bridge across Adyar River. With the completion of the runway extension, the aircraft movement would increase from 30 aircraft per hour to 40 aircraft.
The main focus of the government was to provide air connectivity to remote and interior areas of the country, particularly tier two and tier three cities in the coming years. This could be achieved through the operation of right mix of aircraft by the airlines and development of low-cost, no-frill airports, he said.
Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosiah said aviation was the most important growth engine. The Chennai airport, a hub, would not only promote international tourism, but would attract business opportunities, he said. Once the Airport metro rail is completed, it would become a multi-transport hub where various modes of transport would converge, said K.C. Venugopal, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation.