Thursday, July 18

Kolkata airport attempts to consolidate land for upgrade

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Authorities at Kolkata airport are trying to consolidate space that it had leased out to national carrier Air India (AI) decades ago when traffic was sparse so that it can augment infrastructure to keep pace with the double-digit rate of growth that the facility has been experiencing in recent years.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) is negotiating with AI that has multiple facilities scattered across various buildings and hangars at the airport to relocate them into a single multi-level facility to free around 16 acre land that they currently occupy.

“Given the rapid pace at which traffic is growing at Kolkata airport, we need to enhance facilities and review existing infrastructure. Among the problem areas identified is the need to expand the international terminal and widen the departure ramp exit. For both, space is needed to the south of the existing terminal. An AI facility that is situated adjacent to the ramp needs to be relocated. We have held several rounds of discussion with AI at the regional level and will next take it up at the headquarters,” Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee said.

Around 10,000 cars use the departure level flyover to drop 30,000 passengers and several hundred crew members who take the 222 flights that fly out of Kolkata daily. Though the growth rate in 2018-19 could have slipped to 10% from 25% in 2017-18 following the grounding of several Jet Airways flights, the exit snarl will only get worse in coming years. This year, more than 24 million passengers are expected to use the terminal, up from 21.8 million who used it in 2018-19.

The AI building in question is an engineering facility that overhauls the auxiliary power unit (APU) in aircraft. APU is a device that runs the electrical systems of planes. According to the AAI proposal, it will develop a highrise building with adequate space to house engineering and maintenance wings to free up space that multiple small buildings currently occupy at the airport.

An AI official said the carrier had already relinquished some space following discussion at the regional level. “AI, Alliance Air and Air India Transport Services Ltd (AITSL) have multiple facilities. The proposals from AAI have been assessed at the regional level. Those that could be acted upon have already been addressed. The others that require deliberation at the headquarters level have been forwarded to the concerned authorities. We intent to fully cooperate with AAI to ensure that Kolkata airport can continue to grow,” the official said.

Source: Times of India

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