The government is keen on providing air connectivity to Tier II and Tier III cities in the coming years. This could be achieved by operation of the right mix of airlines and development of low-cost, no-frills airports, Union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said.
At the inauguration of the newly built international and domestic terminals in the Chennai airport on Thursday, he said that estimates suggest that domestic air traffic will touch 336 million passengers per annum in the next 10 years, and international traffic will exceed 84 million passengers.
“The focus was on shifting to the low-cost carrier model. It is expected that this model will continue to prevail for achieving higher growth of domestic carriers,” he said.
He said with these two new terminals, the capacity of Chennai airport has been enhanced from 9 million passengers per annum to 23 million. The annual cargo-handling capacity has been enhanced from 3.2 lakh tonne to 11 lakh tonne. The secondary runway here has been extended by 1,032 metres to a total length of 3,117 metres by constructing a concrete bridge over river Adyar, he said.
Stressing on safety aspects, he said a data link communication system has been implemented in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, which will eliminate human errors and delays in pre-departure clearance. “A satellite-based navigation system, GAGAN, is being jointly developed with ISRO. It is designed to provide accuracy, availability and integrity necessary to enable users rely on GPS for all phases of flights and is likely to be operational by July 2013,” he said.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, who was originally scheduled to participate, boycotted the function since the Centre had not responded favourably to her demand to name domestic Terminal 2 after her mentor, AIADMK founder and former Tamil Nadu chief minister MG Ramachandran.
In his address, vice-president Hamid Ansari said the Chennai airport is a premier international gateway and the air hub for South India, besides being the third busiest airport in the country. “It has attained greater importance in view of India's Look East Policy, due to which economic and commercial integration with countries of East Asia and South East Asia is taking place at a rapid pace,” he said.