Unanswered questions about Chennai airport expansion


Introduction and Need for Airport expansion

by Nemmani Sreedhar

Chennai, the capital city of India state of Tamil Nadu, with a population of about 4.7 million people, is the fourth largest city in India. Before India gained independence from British rule, Chennai served as a hub of British rule in the southern India. This tradition continued even after independence, as Chennai served as a regional hub for international travel.

 By virtue of being an administrative hub of British rule, Chennai was better connected to rest of the country, as well as to the international destinations, as compared tothan other cities in south India (like Hyderabad and Bangalore). Chennai airport became operational in 1932 with the landing of “Pushmoth”. In the initial days Chennai airport was utilized mainly for military use. After gaining independence from the colonial rule, in 1952 the airport management was taken over by civil aviation department.

Chennai Airport on Dipity by Nemmani Sreedhar

Need for expansion of the airport capacity

Over a period of time traffic volume (both passenger and fright) in Chennai airport increased exponentially. According to the Airport Authority of India (AAI), in 2009-10 approximately a total of 10.5 million passengers (both domestic and international) used Chennai airport. Whereas in 2009 Chennai airport had a capacity of handling just about 7 million passengers in both domestic and international terminals. With an annual growth of passenger traffic at 18 percent, Chennai airport was running out of its capacity. The third busiest airport in India with an 8.5 percent share of total passenger traffic, Chennai airport however has not seen any expansion of its capacities after 2003, when a new international departure terminal was commissioned. On the contrary, new green field airports, in two other major cities of south India, Hyderabad and Bangalore, with a capacity of handling about 40 million passengers were commissioned in 2008.

To address the problem of infrastructure insufficiency, it was proposed that either the existing airport be expanded or a new Green-field airport be commissioned. After prolonged deliberations, union government finally approved expansion of the present airport. To this end AAI in September 2008, awarded a contract worth Rs. 12,000 to Chennai based company Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited (CCCL). After the expansion, Chennai airport would have an additional capacity to handle 23 million passengers per annum, taking the total capacity to 30 million passengers. The contract envisaged the completion of the expansion work by May 2010.

What to expect from Chennai Airport expansion

by Megha Talwar

The expansion project on the Chennai airport is going on at a feverish pace. More than a 1,000 workers, mostly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are employed on the site. The expansion work includes building of two new terminals at the international and domestic airports respectively, construction of a flyover to connect the international and domestic sectors,  extension of runway and construction of bridge over Adyar river, also modernization of the cargo airport, which would cost Rs2015 crore. The contract has been given to the Chennai-based Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited (CCCL). Also, it is in partnership with Herve Pomerleau, an infrastructure company of Canada, for technical support in the project.

Building of new terminals

The proposed domestic integrated terminal is a three level structure under construction on an area of 67700 sq m with a provision for seven gates and two hardstand hold rooms, 52 check-in counters excluding 8 counters for e-ticketing and 18/10 immigration/customs counters for arrival and departure passengers respectively. The capacity of the new terminal will be 10 million passengers per annum (p.a.), while it caters to 4 million at present. After completion of two new terminal buildings, the capacity of the Chennai airport will be 23 million p.a. out of which 16 million will be domestic and seven million will be international. The buildings open web steel superstructure subtly rises to support twin-curved roofs that define a light and open, column free terminal.

Extension of the secondary runway

The existing length of 2025 of the secondary runway has been extended by 1030 m including a 200m bridge over the Adyar River to meet the traffic growth in both domestic and international. Also, parallel taxi tracks and parking bays will be constructed..The bridge will cater to A-30 aircrafts.

Travelator to connect domestic and international airports

Besides the new terminal buildings, the Chennai Airport Flyover-Travelator is also being built mainly to connect the international terminal with domestic terminal and runs for a distance of about 1 km. It will have an elevated corridor on top for vehicles to reach the first floor of the airport building, which will have the arrival terminal. The pillars on one side of the flyover will also carry a tube beneath the elevated corridor, which will have two walkalators. The two walkalators, which cover a distance of 50 metres each in the corridors are first of its kind installed in any Indian airport. The walkalators will be helpful for movement of passengers between international and domestic terminal. They have been installed with a cost of Rs 4.18 crore. One of the walkalators at the airport was inaugurated by the Chennai Airport Director, K. Natarajan on August 13, 2009.

Also, there will be parking at the ground level and also there will be shops for the passengers inside the corridor. This would help in quicker movement of passengers from domestic to international terminal and vice versa.

According to the media reports, “the AAI expects to get the expansion ready in the second half of 2011 with all the signage and counters in place by April-May, construction work on the domestic terminal completed by August and the international terminal, including a 600 m walkalator linking the two terminals, ready in September.”


Video: by Megha Talwar


Airport expansion to be delayed

by Rushati Chakraborty

The initial deadline for finishing Chennai Airport Expansion Project was on May, 2010 and later on it is being delayed several times. For this, the deadline is being shifted ever since.

 Why Delay?

AAI authorities hope that the new international and the domestic terminals can be completed by September this year. But when our team went to the construction site, the reality seemed to be different. There is still a question mark whether it is capable of finishing by September. According to several assumptions it is likely to get delayed by over nine months i.e. December.

 Authority answers

“The expansion is delayed because of non-cooperation of Union government departments,” said Mr. Naresh Sain, HR manager at the Operational Office of the Airport. According to Sain, cooperation from the state govt. is good but defence authorities delayed to transfer the land. “After a year-long tug of war, the defence finally handed over to the airport the 21 acres land and a building adjacent to the new international terminal in the first week of February,” he said.

 The set of commitments and failure to provide the expected result is now on between CCCL and IPM-Lahmeyer International, the project management consultants appointed by the AAI.

 “We work here 24X7 in multiple shifts to meet the deadline,” said Ram Babu, a construction worker from Bihar.

 The blame game

Since the last few months, constructors have been instructed to multiply their workforce, but almost for a year working in multiple shifts was stopped, an airport source revealed. On the other hand, CCCL blamed the Airport Authority of India (AAI) for the delay. AAI has been lax enough in providing necessary approvals. The decision for certain sections of the project is also delaying all the works.

 Senior AAI officials, however, maintained that all was well and works on the terminals were on track.

 “Chennai Airport may get ruined to the core by AAI. Other airports of Southern cities, built by the private players did not face such constraint. They maintained the deadline and everything went on smooth from the day the project was planned. Chennai is lagging behind because of its political nature. The public will be happy if the present commitment is at least met,” said Mr. Ramesh Prabhu, a resident of Chennai.

 Amidst all existing chaos and delays, the government is even planning to come up with a new Greenfield Airport. 

Poll – by Rushati Chakraborty

What would be the preferable option for Chennai ?online survey


The pros and cons of the Greenfield Airport

 by Aditi Gupta

What is Greenfield airport?

Tamil Nadu is giving serious consideration to the air traffic and passenger control in the state. Where the construction work to expand the existing airport at Tirusulum is in full swing, the state government has come up with the proposal of the new Greenfield airport too. The new airport, which is to be constructed near Sriperumbudur, will spread over 4200 acres of land. A Greenfield airport is one built to handle the projected requirements of air traffic when the existing airport is unable to suffice the needs.

Why Greenfield airport?

One asks if a new airport is to be constructed, then why expanding the existing airport. According to the authority, it is to control the air traffic and the chaos caused due to heavy rush of passengers at one airport. Hence both the airports are required. Naresh Sain, HR Manager, Operational Offices, Chennai Airport, said, “Having two airports will make it easy to handle the air traffic and increase the capacity to accommodate more aircrafts and passengers.” Also it will outline the cost of the existing airport which has cost around Indian Rupee symbol.svg3000 crore. (wikipedia)


But in Hyderabad and Bangalore, where Greenfield airports are now operational, the old existing airports were shut down which implies that the same will happen with the existing Chennai Airport on which a huge investment has been made by the Airport Authority of India.

Opposition parties have opposed the new Greenfield airport contending that agricultural land has been acquired for construction purposes. Since elections are around the corner in the Tamil Nadu, it will be on the new government to decide how the plan of airport should be executed. (The Hindu)

The positive perspective

Besides that, there are many who feel that another airport in the vicinity of a large existing airport would actually benefit passengers in more ways than one. One, it will reduce the commuting time for those who stay far away from the existing airport. Two, second airport is also likely to pull down the rates being charged by the existing airport. Lastly, it will lower the prices that airlines pay for using various facilities at airports. This can inturn, save money of the passengers by offering low fares. 


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR by Aditi Gupta



The articles are written by Nemmani Sreedhar, Megha Talwar, Rushati Chakraborty, Aditi Gupta

Timeline: Nemmani Sreedhar

(sources: http://www.aai.aero/chennai/aboutus.jsp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chennai_International_Airport )

Video: Megha Talwar

Poll: Rushati Chakraborty

Picture slideshow: Aditi Gupta



(From left : Rushati, Aditi, Megha, Sreedhar)

Materials sourced from:







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Source: http://acjproject2011.posterous.com/modernisation-of-chennai-airport-some-un-answ-0

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This entry was published on June 27, 2012 at 9:25 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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