CHENNAI: After being paralysed for four days as floodwaters had entered its operational area and the tarmac, the Chennai airport on Monday finally got back to business. Around 20 domestic flights landed and departed from the airport since morning.
“International flights will start functioning from this midnight,” said airport director Deepak Shastri. The scene at the airport was like any other day, with people going in and out of the terminals with their trolleys. While all functions were back to normal, the authorities were struggling with the process of sharing information with passengers. “The only problem we are facing is bad network. Officials are not able to share messages with passengers; a few didn’t even know that the operations had resumed until their friends informed them. This is one major problem that needs to be tackled. The rest has been taken care of,” said Deepak Shastri.
Earlier in the day Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju visited the airport to check on damages and repairs. Sharing his impressions with the press, the minister described the disruption in operations at the Chennai airport as a major setback to the entire civil aviation ministry. “The airport is yet to reach its maximum potential, however it continues to be a model when it comes to cargo handling,” he said.
The incessant rainfall had brought in knee-deep water and reptiles in and around the premises; 17 walls were broken; and as a temporary measure the authorities put chain fencing to keep animals at bay. “This monsoon was an eye opener for all of us. We put all our staff into work and each one is working towards preventing such disasters in future. We have engineers working on glass panels, to avoid any more fall. We need to increase the height of the radar so that the place would not be inundated again and we also will be working to improve the drainage system. The authorities are also in talks to acquire 40 more acres of land, which is currently under process with the DGCA,” he said.
He added that both the State and Centre have extended their complete cooperation and support in revamping up the airport. “We are thankful to the defence, the State and the Centre for their support. The Chief Minister has extended her help and so has the Central government. They have agreed to pay for all the damages incurred due to floods,” he disclosed.
“We are working together as a team with the manpower we currently have. For, many other employees have been personally affected by the flood. Things are actually bouncing back on track in time and everything will go back to normal very soon; it already has in many respects,” he added.