KOCHI: 2016 will be a crucial year for Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), which has many firsts to its credit, including being the pioneer in resorting to the PPP model in building an airport and becoming the first solar-powered airport in the world.
The airport is gearing up for a big leap in infrastructure next year by opening the second international terminal and introducing a second instrument landing system - a first in the state - which will allow the aircraft to take off and touch down from both directions of the same runway at the airport.
Putting aside the flaws of the past, especially in connection with the ever-increasing smuggling cases through the airport, the state-of-the-art airport is on the path of steady growth. Last financial year, CIAL registered a record footfall of 64.5 lakh passengers, making it the first busiest terminal in the state and fourth busiest international terminal in the country.
Now, the airport is emerging as the third largest airport in the country in terms of international passenger handling when the statistics of the footfall of passengers in the first quarter of the fiscal have been announced.
Rs 1,000-cr International Terminal
Taking note of the huge leap in the volume of international traffic in recent years, CIAL has been constructing an additional international terminal at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore. The civil work of the new facility has almost been completed.
The mechanical and interior works are being launched now with the awarding of tenders to major companies and the terminal is expected to be thrown open for traffic by May 25 next year, said CIAL authorities.
According to Airport Director A C K Nair, the new 15 lakh- square feet international terminal will have state-of-the-art facilities. Once the new terminal is commissioned, the present domestic terminal will be shifted to the old international terminal and the present domestic area will be converted into a business terminal for handling chartered flights and for other commercial purposes, said airport officials.
CIAL authorities had recently made public the details of the bidding of various works to the tune of Rs 967.23 crore out of the total estimated cost of Rs 1,000 crore as part of ensuring greater transparency of the works related to the airport.
Instrument Landing System
The work of setting up the second Instrument Landing System (ILS), which will allow the aircraft to take off and touch down from both directions of the same runway, is progressing. It will not only reduce the fuel consumption of aircraft but also avoid major flight delays during monsoon and winter even when the visibility is as low as 800 metres, according to experts.
CIAL has completed the works of the building which has been set aside for setting up the infrastructure required for installing the new equipment. The Airports Authority of India will set up the equipment in the westerly approach of the 3,400-metre runway. The proposal for installing a CAT-1 (Category 1) type ILS at the 09 end of the runway was a long-pending demand of the various airlines operating to Kochi in order to avoid flight delays in case of non-operationalisation of the existing ILS at the eastern end (27).
The new system is also expected to reduce the cost of operations of flight services especially from West Asia as the flights approaching the airport from the south west direction have to hover around the airport for an average of 11 minutes and travel an additional distance of about 40 nautical miles before landing, said experts.
The airport has recorded a total flight movement of 52,793 during the last fiscal. And since over 80 per cent of the flights are from the West Asian destinations that approach the airport from the South West direction, the new ILS will be a boon for flight operators.
New Four-lane Road
Besides all these, the work of converting the Airport Road, connecting the airport with NH 47 at Athani, into a four-lane VIP road has also been progressing, for which a sum of Rs 30 crore has already been sanctioned. The construction of a rail overbridge (RoB) proposed along the new road would also reduce the distance to the airport by another 1.5 km from the NH 47. The company has already deposited Rs 11 crore with the railways for constructing the RoB.
Apart from this, work on a six-storeyed commercial complex adjacent to the international terminal is already underway, for which CIAL has set aside a sum of Rs 36 crore.
All these projects intended to be completed during next year will provide a major infrastructure leap for the CIAL and take the airport to new heights in aviation sector.