THE grounding of Jet Airways has chipped away 10-15 per cent of Chennai airport's earnings. The Airports Authority of India is now giving away slots that Jet Airways is not able to operate to Indigo and SpiceJet.
Thanks to the Jet crisis, the aviation sector's performance has been sluggish this financial year, and the Chennai airport is planning strategies to overcome the challenges, says airport director S Sreekumar.
It's learnt that the airport is losing out on landing and parking charges and other rental revenues from Jet. Operators and fuel suppliers, too, have lost a big customer.
Being one of the largest private airlines, Jet Airways had a fleet of 119 aircrafts and operated 600 flights a day before the liquidity crisis came to the fore on December 31.
The domestic airline traffic in April declined for the first time in six years, as per International Air Transport Association's data. India's air traffic fell by 0.5 per cent in 2019 compared to the previous year, primarily due to the Jet impact.
Sreekumar, however, is worried about how Chennai airport will handle the growing traffic in future. Work is being undertaken to enhance operational capacity. Rapid taxiways and new, parallel taxi-tracks are being constructed to handle more flights.
"This will ensure that flights get take-off clearance faster, thereby helping us operate more flights per hour. The works are likely to be completed within six months," says Sreekumar. This, however, may not be enough.
The Chennai airport is likely to reach its saturation level in the next 5-8 years. The runway capacity will hit the saturation point by 2025. A masterplan made for the Chennai-Bengaluru industrial corridor by Japanese agency JICA stresses on the need for an additional airport.
It says a second airport is necessary in Chennai as the passenger demand is likely to surpass the capacity of the current one by 2020-21. Sreekumar says the government has identified certain land parcels for a second airport, but he is not aware of further developments.
Currently, Chennai Airport is going in for a major expansion under the second phase and will have a capacity to handle 30 million passengers and 40 flights per hour once works are completed.