Chennai is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal in the south of India and is the capital of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the major metropolises of the country with a population of 70.9 lakhs as per the 2011 census and thus, the 6th most populous city in the country. It has a deep history and is home to Fort St. George, built in 1644. Chennai is among the most visited Indian cities by overseas tourists and was ranked 43rd in the world in 2015. It is also reputed to be India’s health capital with state-of-the-art health facilities and hospitals catering to patients from all over the country and abroad. It boasts of a modern airport which is known as Chennai International Airport.
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One of the first airports in the country was set in Chennai in 1910. The former Governor of the Madras Presidency Sri K. Sriramulu Naidu donated the land for the airport and the first plane landed in the airport in 1932. From a modest beginning, the operations of Chennai Airport was confined to military operations and abundantly used during the WW II. The Civil Aviation Department of the Government of India took over the airport in 1952 and finally the Airports Authority (AAI) of India acquired it in 1972.
The airport is spread over an area covering 1323 acres housing separate terminals for Domestic and International passengers along with a dedicated one for cargo.
Chennai International Airport is the main hub of arrivals and departures in South India. The airport is owned and operated by the public sector Airports Authority of India, serving over 20 million passengers per year, of whom a quarter are International travellers. In terms of numbers, it is the fourth largest airport in India after Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Presently, it handles over 400 aircraft daily, both in and outbound. The airport has been modernised and the new facilities were opened in the year 2013. The second phase is likely to be over in 2021. With a growth rate of 15% per year, the airport is already facing constraints, which is likely to be overcome when the second phase is successfully executed to augment the handling capacity of 30 million passengers per year.
The airport boasts of lounges named “Travel Club” in both the terminals. Priority pass holders and passengers of several airlines enjoy free entry. Others can purchase their entry and access the facilities of refreshments, Wi-Fi, newspapers and flight-info among others. International passengers are served hard drinks which are barred in the domestic lounge.
The options of transport to and from the airport are many to suit every choice of passenger.
Like most airports in the country, outbound passengers are allowed a free drop time of 10 minutes at the airport entrance. In the event of the drop time being exceeded, parking fees are levied.
The most important facility that directly impacts on passenger comfort is the terminal and its ambience. Though the terminal complex is contiguous, it is segregated into domestic, international and cargo. The combined retail space in terminals T1, T3 and T4 is approximately 3250 sq. mts. which houses shops, restaurants, snack bars and lounges.
The airport has two runways and 24 taxiways and is capable of handling cross-runway operations which help obviate flight delays. It is equipped to operate 36 aircraft movements per hour. Chennai Airport presently has 81 parking bays and is well endowed to house Jumbo Jets like Airbus A380 and Boeing 747.
It is home to the biggest air traffic control center in the country. The ATC tower is housed in the Air Traffic Services Complex. It is among the four flight information centers in the country along with Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Equipped with advanced integrated radar technology, the ATC in Chennai is integrated with the entire airspace in the country and monitors the entire South India on its radar screens, coordinating movements in a large area above 26000 to 46000 ft.
Chennai Airport is one of the busiest airports in the country and flights from Mumbai to Chennai are extremely popular. The ongoing modernisation of the airport is laying great emphasis on making it user-friendly to be among the best. The anticipated expectation is not out of place for the designers involved in the project have to their credit the creation of Terminal4 of Singapore’s Changi Airport which is compared to the best in the world consistently.