Chennai

Chennai needs a greenfield airport at the earliest, Jayant Sinha

With air travel growing rapidly at 15 to 20%, Chennai airport needs a greenfield airport at the earliest, said Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.

After inaugurating the first flight service between Chennai and Mysuru, as part of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) here, he said the city’s airport will soon have exhausted its capacity in a few years, even with the modernised terminals in place.

“At least in about five to six years, we need to build a new greenfield airport for the city, for which about 1,000 to 2,000 acres of land are required. We are in discussions with the State government in this regard,” he said.

The greenfield airport will be like a global hub for the State with a capacity to serve for another 30 to 40 years. “It will become a tremendous driver for economic growth and will have [infrastructure] development around it, like for instance, hospitality and tourism,” he said.

Expanding wings

Mr. Sinha said that the second round of bidding of RCS will begin next week. “Of the 400 airstrips in the country, 100 have become operational now and we have a long way to go. Airlines such as IndiGo which did not participate in the first round of RCS bidding have now purchased order for 50 ATR aircraft for ₹10,000 crore. We want to even connect Andaman and Nicobar islands, northeast and hilly areas with smaller planes or even helicopters,” he said.

Regional connectivity

As part of the RCS, TruJet started one flight a day between Chennai to Mysuru from Wednesday.

V. Umesh, managing director of TruJet said, “The inaugural flight had about 50 passengers. The cost of the ticket is ₹2,000 but the offer price on Wednesday was ₹1,000. This route will mostly have businessmen and tourists.”

Currently, TruJet has about four ATR aircraft with a capacity of 75-80 passengers and plans to add four more to the fleet. “In another month, Chennai to Salem and Chennai to Cuddapah flights also will start. We are trying to get permission for operating from Hosur airport as well,” he said.

Bidding for new terminal early next year

The ₹2,300 crore Chennai airport’s new modernisation project is an immediate need as 20 million passengers are expected to travel through the airport, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said.

“The new terminal will have a capacity to handle 30-35 million passengers and can serve for five years,” he said. The project has gone for a final approval and the bidding will begin early next year.

Responding to a question on why Chennai airport lags behind when compared to few other Metro airports, he said, “Growth in an airport depends on addition of new destinations and new aircraft. We are adding more flights to Chennai. And there is astrong underlying demand for the airport that is likely to grow in the coming years,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 7:57:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-needs-a-greenfield-airport-at-the-earliest-jayant-sinha/article19723631.ece

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