September 29, 2008

Soon, Airport Will Turn into a Foodie’s Paradise

By Manju V

Mumbai: The aroma of food will soon be wafting in the air at Mumbai airport's arrival area, with food courts being set up outside the domestic terminals in a month. And, around the same time, a six- cuisine dining area will be set up at the international airport.

Bang in the middle of the Diwali holiday travel season, the Mumbai airport will embark on a gastronomic adventure that could reduce-with a delicious twist-the boredom of waiting for a flight. "A 160-seat food court with eight kiosks will be constructed outside Terminal 1B; the smaller area outside terminal 1A will have a 60- seat food court with five kiosks," said Siddharth Sahgal, general manager (retail), Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL). Both the food courts will have multi-cuisines on offer with the regular hog of Indian, Chinese and coffee joints.

However, Mumbai's attempt to enter the league of those airports where food is more than sandwiches, pastries and the like will be successful when the dining space at the international airport starts operating in October. The food will be from around the world but no gourmet fare as of now. "The emphasis is on experience as well as food," Sahgal said.

After the passenger finishes check-in , security, immigration, he/ she goes down to the mezzanine floor, which will only have duty- free shops and food parlours. That is when one can disconnect from the "airport stress' ' and move on for something that is a bit like a mall experience , except that it would be high-end . The 18,000- sq-ft space with 350 seats will dish out a six- cuisine fare. The food court will be managed by HMSHost, the international airport dining company.

While the World Airport Survey rates Singapore, Hong Kong, Munich- in that order-as the best airports for dining, the Mumbai airport will have its small USPs. Like the IIFA bar, a Planet Hollywood- inspired Bollywood idea for star-struck passengers , for instance. "It will be a great place for Bollywood stars to hang out and so it will be an attraction for fans too," he said. The other unique thing will be the Indian wine lounge where fliers can sip products from vineyards of the country.

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