Chennai Airport: Essential information guide

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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.

Read More : How to Make the Most of Your Chennai Visit

History of Chennai Airport:

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.

Chennai Airport layout:

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 Airport Ownership:

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.

Chennai Airport – Basic Info:

  • Name and Code: Chennai International Airport (MAA)
  • Location: The airport is located at a distance of 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) from the city center towards the southwest at Meenambakkam and Thirusoolam.
  • Travel Time: From the airport to the city center, the travel time is about 30 minutes.

Chennai Airport Facilities:

  • Inter-terminal connectivity: The terminals catering to domestic and international traffic are about 800 meters apart. It is connected by a means of a mobile walkway which was made operational in April 2018. The terminals are also connected to the Metro Station by a similar walkway.
  • Baggage screening: Inline screening facility is available only in the International Terminal and the domestic passengers are yet to benefit on similar lines and they have to get it self-screened before check-in.
  • Wi-Fi: There is a limited facility for internet connectivity only to Indian phones for a period of 30 minutes.
  • Shopping: Retail shops boasting international brands are functional from September 2018.
  • Announcements: The system of flight information announcements has been withdrawn since May 2017 as a measure for the reduction of noise pollution.
  • Left Luggage: Passengers can store their luggage in the facility located between the two terminals for a maximum period of seven days at a cost of Rs.100 for 24 hours.
  • ATM: There is ample ATM facilities at the terminals

Lounges at Chennai Airport:

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.

Chennai Airport Transport:

The options of transport to and from the airport are many to suit every choice of passenger.

  • App cabs: All the reputed app cabs operating in the country have a presence in the airport.
  • Prepaid counters: There are prepaid counters and kiosks of several cab aggregators at the Arrival Gate no. 3 to help inbound passengers.
  • Rail Station: The airport is connected to both the suburban and metro rail services. The metro station is additionally equipped with self-check-in counters.
  • Other services: The airport is a hub of other local transport options such as taxi-cabs, buses and auto-rickshaws.

Chennai Airport Parking:

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.

Chennai Airport Terminals:

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.

  • Terminal 1: It is earmarked for domestic travel and is equipped with two aero-bridges. The sprawling complex is the busiest part of the airport complex. The terminal covers an area of 19250 sq. mts. (207200 sq. ft.) and has 48 check-in counters. The terminal has two entry gates and facilitates for boarding through 9 gates, of which 6 are on the ground floor and 3 on the first.
  • Terminal 3 and 4: These terminals cater exclusively to the international traffic, of which the former is used for arrivals and the latter for departures. It covers a total area of 42870 sq. mts. (464400 sq. ft.) with 45 check-in counters, 38 immigration counters combined in the arrival and departure terminals and a total of 18 customs counters.
  • Terminal 2: It is the old terminal at Meenambakkam which is now exclusively used for cargo.

Chennai Airport Infrastructure:

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.

Chennai Airport - Air Traffic Control Tower:

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.

Bottom Line:

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.