CHENNAI:When investors and captains of industry from abroad arrive for the Global Investors Meet (GIM) at the end of September, they’ll have to make do with the humble old Anna International Terminal. Owing to an acute staff crunch, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken the decision to spruce up and refurbish the old arrival terminal as the newly constructed one could not be operationalised before the event.
“Despite their best efforts both Customs and Immigration do not have the requisite strength to begin operating from the new arrival hall,” said a senior AAI official. “This has prompted us to work on bringing the old terminal up to par so that the GIM is not affected,” he added.
Dusty and unutilised, it will take a fair amount of work to move operations there. This is something that AAI may not want to risk when such a large event is happening. From shops to eateries, scanning counters to airline operations and lounges a lot of facilities will have to be relocated in a phased manner, “There is already a lot of pressure because the Chief Secretary is in touch with the Civil Aviation Secretary and is asking for better facilities. We are doing the best that we can,” justified the official.
At least when the GIM participants fly back or take domestic trips they will get to see the fancier, newer terminals.
Completed in mid 2012, the international arrival hall is the only one among the modernised terminals that is yet to begin operations. Ever since the airline operations committee objected to the lack of a second ramp for luggage tugs to move between the building and the tarmac, the arrival hall has been jinxed.
When airlines thawed to the idea of using more powerful tugs to surmount the steeper than usual ramp, staffing became the next issue. “The ramp was not a major issue because it was built in accordance with international standards. But for immigration and customs to move into this new building they will need at least twice the current strength and there are no new recruitments happening,” said another official.
AAI has written to the necessary agencies requesting manpower so that the terminal could be in use at least by the end of the year.