Chennai airport terminals that are being used to fly in and out of the city may be turned into warehouses, hostels and cloak rooms. As Airports Authority of India (AAI) clears the final hurdles to make the shift into the newly constructed airport terminals, senior officials have revealed that the existing ones (named after former Chief Ministers Kamaraj and Anna) will be used for such storage and utility purposes.
Chennai Airport Director HS Suresh said a lot of new shop owners and restauranters in the new terminal have been asking for warehouse and storage space, which will be allocated in old terminal buildings. Though AAI’s Chairman VP Agrawal has been saying that existing terminals will be renovated and pressed into use over next three years, officials have now let on that this is a plan that has the sword of Damocles hanging over its head. If the State government and the ministry of civil aviation finally sort out the approvals for the proposed airport at Sriperumbudur, then these old terminals will not be needed, said a top AAI official.
These terminals may have to remain closed if that plan comes to fruitition, he added. Commissioned in 1985 and 1989, the two ‘outgoing’ terminals were among the ‘most modern’ in the country, at that time. The plan to set up the second airport was floated a few years ago and a feasibility report was submitted by ICAO in 2009. Though the State government had proposed an investment of Rs 20,000 crore for the project in the TN Vision 2023 document last year, movement on the project has been slow.
Chennai’s air traffic is estimated to grow to 25 million passengers annually, by 2020. The new terminals can only handle 14 million passengers, while the old ones were handling under 10 million, leaving a sizeable deficit. This is why AAI apparently wanted to go ahead and renovate the old terminals. However, with a decline in passenger numbers at the airport over the years, questions have been raised about need for a separate airport in Sriperumbudur and a massive airport complex in Tirusulam.