Chennai airport seeks Rs 500 cr for infrastructure upgrade

The government is moving ahead with privatisation of the Chennai airport, which has undergone renovation with an investment of Rs 2,015 crore. The airport is spending another Rs 500 crore to improve the infrastructure. This would improve the operational capacity and increase its valuation, said Deepak Shastri, director, Chennai airport.

While the Airports Authority of India is, on the one hand, fielding allegations on trying to privatise the project after investing Rs 2,015 crore to refurbish and expand the facility, on the other hand, there are allegations the renovation was not planned and implemented properly and has been creating trouble for customers and officials.       

The main bottleneck for the facility — which has seen the renovation with a domestic terminal and an international terminal built at both sides of the old building — is that the old domestic and international terminals have not been integrated into the new facilities. These impede the functioning of the new terminals. The old terminal is of single level, while the two new terminals on the either side are of two levels, thus making it operationally difficult to interlink between them.

The old terminal has to be made and merged with the new terminals and a walkalator has to be put in place for commuters to go from one end of the airport to the other, which are the urgent requirements for the passengers, said an expert on condition of anonymity. However, the AAI has informed the local authorities that status quo should be maintained till a decision on privatisation is taken, which has been delayed for a couple of years now.

The government is in the process of selecting private developers to work together for operation, management and development of Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports through public private partnership (PPP). Representatives of eight prospective applicants — Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, GVK Airport Holdings, GMR Airport Holdings, Egis Avia, Celebi Aviation, Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited, Pithavadian and Partners, Flemingo International Ltd — have visited the airport recently and held discussions.

However, authorities fell that an additional investment of around Rs 500 crore to rectify some of these anomalies would improve the reputation of the Chennai airport, and would also help to improve the valuation of the Airport at the time of privatisation.

It may be noted that the employees of the airport have been protesting the move to privatise the facility, after it was refurbished. There were also allegations on the shoddy work in modernisation and upgradation. According to earlier reports, the aviation ministry itself has said the maintenance of the new terminal at the Chennai airport is bad and the work done for upgradation of the airport is patchy and does not meet quality standards set at Delhi or Mumbai.

According to information available with the AAI, the Chennai airport has seen an increase of 9.4 per cent in number of passengers during the period of April to December 2014-15, at 1.06 crore passengers, both domestic and international, as compared to 97.29 lakh passengers during the same period of the previous year. The aircraft movements, both domestic and international, has seen a decrease in December 2014 at 10,104 compared to 10,718 during December 2013. For a nine-month period from April to December 2014, the aircraft movement numbers has seen an increase to 93,148 compared to 90,253 aircraft movements during the same period of 2013, an increase of 3.2 per cent.