August 17, 2008

Centre Clears Modernization of Kolkata, Chennai Airports

NEW DELHI: The Centre has finally given the final go-ahead for modernizing Kolkata and Chennai airports by the state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI). The AAI will now begin work next month and complete the process in three years. The Union cabinet on Thursday approved the Rs 1,808-crore Chennai and Rs 1,943-crore Kolkata airport programmes.

Aviation minister Praful Patel said: "AAI can develop these two airports as models and compete with private sector in developing world class projects. They can even compete in international arena. Both the projects involve large investment and will be completed within three years."

The AAI has already got bids from leading global players, including Indian giant L&T that's building both the Delhi and Mumbai airports. Now that the final nod has come, the authority is now going to award the contract shortly so that work can begin next month.

Incidentally, the Kolkata airport had got the Public Investment Board and Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs clearance much earlier while Chennai was yet to be cleared by the Cabinet.

But given the change in political situation where the Left had withdrawn support and important ally DMK-ruled Tamil Nadu was yet get final nod for Chennai airport, the government decided to announce both these projects on Thursday when Chennai was cleared by the Cabinet.

The Chennai Airport has separate international and domestic terminals with capacity of 3 million passengers

per annum (mppa) and 6 mppa, respectively. International traffic at the Chennai Airport in 2007-08 was 3.41 million and domestic traffic was 7.25 million, indicating that the place is running beyond capacity. The modernization project will result in an additional passengers handling capacity of 14 mppa.

(c) 2008 The Times of India. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.