Chennai may become first city with two international airports

The Times of India

CHENNAI: The proposed second airport for the city, at Sriperumbudur, will not be as grand as touted. It will have a runway, a terminal building, approach radar and an air traffic control unit - basic facilities required to handle spillover traffic from Chennai airport.

Further expansion will be decided based on the traffic. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to develop the new airport gradually so that it can be operated along with the existing airport at Meenambakkam. Chennai may become the first in the country to have two international airports as work on the second airports in Goa and Mumbai may be delayed.

"The AAI will do limited work. The integrated terminal will have a capacity to handle five million passengers. It will cater to spillover traffic from the existing airport. We have suggested a joint venture with the state government to operate the airport. AAI will dilute its holding after seven to eight years," AAI chairman V P Agrawal said on Tuesday after reviewing expansion works at the Chennai airport.

The AAI handed over the report of the International Civil Aviation Organisation to the state government a few months ago.

"The government has promised to provide approximately 5,000 acres for the project," he said. "We will not go extensively because that will mean all infrastructure facilities like roads and railway line should be in place. Depending upon the traffic size, a decision will be taken. The new airport is being developed because the expansion possibility of the existing airport is limited."

"Chennai may be the first city to have two international airports in the country. Navi Mumbai airport will have to be built on marshy land and a river will have to be diverted. Chennai's new airport can be built quickly because the land is flat," said Agrawal.

The deadline for the new airport might be announced when the new domestic terminals at the existing airport are opened in mid-April this year. On the ongoing expansion at the existing airport, Agrawal said the AAI was gearing up to operationalise 8,000 ft of the 10,000-ft second runway by April.

"Runway is ready. A survey showed that height of some of the buildings needs to be reduced and some land acquired. We have discussed the issue with the government."

The AAI plans to close down the existing domestic terminal temporarily after new one opens. The existing international terminal will be closed for six months and reopened after some improvement works.