CHENNAI: The Chennai Airport, one of India’s largest, is functioning on just 1,317 acres of land — the least among the country’s major airports. Amid rising demands, the airport is likely to choke if land acquisition for the second phase of modernisation is delayed, aviation officials have warned.
Initially, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) required 150 acres to expand the Chennai Airport, but the requirement was reduced to 93.4 acres in 2018, said an aviation official, adding that the airport is seeking 7.76 acres from the Officers Training Academy (OTA) for approach lights. The OTA has agreed to provide the land if the State government gives it alternate land. The State has agreed in principle.
Of the 93 acres required, nearly 83 pertain to State government land. These include 50 acres from Manapakkam, 30 from Kolapakkam, and 2.98 from Cowl Bazaar. Sources said 16.65 acres of State government land is needed for a Simple Approach Lighting System (SALS) for the extended secondary runway, and another 56.77 acres are required to construct hangars and a fuel farm.
The fuel farm is translocated towards the terminal building. Once it is shifted, the land will be converted to apron parking bays for aircraft. “There is a plan to have eight parking bays,” the sources added. “Similarly, the Chennai Airport is planning three big hangars, which will be given to airlines as well as Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility. Tenders have already been called for the facility,” the sources said.
The airport is also eyeing 8.50 acres of Indian Navy land to construct a parallel taxi track. Currently, Chennai Airport has two runways, but the capacity of both is limited. The AAI is considering the feasibility of building a parallel taxiway on the small piece of land. “The talks on acquiring this parcel of land are in advanced stages. Constructing the parallel taxiway will take two years from the date of acquisition of land,” said an official.
Also, the State needs an acre to ensure safety. “This is required as animals enter the airport. Once the land is acquired, we will build a wall and seal it for safety purposes,” the official added. Similarly, 2.36 acres are required to divert the Pammal drain, flowing beneath the main runway. Airport Advisory Committee chairman and MP TR Baalu has advised that a committee — comprising Revenue (State), Defence, civic body and AAI officials — be formed to deliberate on the progress of land acquisition.