CHENNAI: Chennai Airport director Sharad Kumar has his task cut out after assuming the office. With the pandemic impacting the aviation industry, passengers on a decline, and revenue being bleak, Kumar is preparing to face the challenge.
In an interview with Express, Kumar said the main challenges before him were to increase the revenue, reduce operational costs and attract more passengers. While it is clear that the airport’s revenue has declined, the director did not provide the details of its loss. According to CAPA India, an aviation consultancy firm, India’s airport operators have incurred losses of Rs 7,000 crore in the Financial Year 2021.
“We are planning to attract the stakeholders back by providing more facilities,” Kumar said. As the second wave has declined, there seems to be an uptick in the number of passengers at the airport, which had earlier reported a 75.3 per cent decline in passenger traffic. Last Saturday, however, the airport recorded 14,000 domestic passengers and saw 153 flights being operated.
Kumar said he was also charting out plans to improve passenger amenities. “We are looking at providing contactless entry for the passengers,” he said. It is learnt that the authorities want to install biometric access services, besides renovating passenger toilets.
“Ten passenger toilets in Terminal-1 are being renovated at a cost of Rs 7.35 crore and 700 new trolleys for passengers have been procured,” said Kumar, adding that the airport has set up an RT-PCR test lab at the arrival area. “We have also sought permission from the government for carrying out Rapid-Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for passengers,” he said.
The director said that the East and West blocks of Multilevel Car Parking (MLCP) are expected to be commissioned by November 2021. Once it is inaugurated, the airport will become the first in the country to have multi-modal connectivity. “You can either take the road, the suburban trains, or the Chennai Metro. All modes of transport will be available,” he said. Works are also being speeded up to complete the first phase of the Rs 2,476 crore-modernisation project at the airport. The two-phase project will increase the passenger capacity at the airport from 14 million passengers per annum to 30 million passengers per annum. “The second phase is likely to be completed by 2023, but it is dependent on how the pandemic is brought under control,” he said.
Further, he also wants to ensure that heavy rains don’t impact the functioning of the airport as it did during the floods of 2015. “We are coordinating with State government agencies to divert stormwater entering the airport. A new stormwater drain of 5.4 km length is being constructed,” he said.
Operators in India incurred Rs 7,000 cr losses
According to CAPA India, an aviation consultancy firm, India’s airport operators have incurred losses of Rs 7,000 crore in the Financial Year 2021.