The Bagdogra airport is set to expand the departure lounge, enhance domestic security hold area (SHA) and add a new conveyor belt at the arrival lounge in a two-phased development of the existing terminal.
Speaking to TOI, Bagdogra airport director P Subramani said the terminal was being expanded by 450 sqm by extending the facade to bring a section of the porch and cordoned off driveway into the building. This additional space will allow passengers breathing space in the terminal that gets crammed with passengers between 12 noon and 2pm when several flights depart.
The next major work underway is on the building’s first floor where the domestic SHA is being enhanced to add an additional 822 sqm to the existing space. This will augment the SHA capacity from 450 passengers to 750. “We could earlier accommodate passengers of three flights in the SHA. Once the SHA is enhanced by mid-March, passengers of five flights will be able to wait there,” the airport director said.
The twin projects are part of Phase 2 of Bagdogra airport terminal augmentation. In Phase 1 in 2017, an international SHA was created on the first floor to hold 150 passengers.
Once the Phase 2 is complete, a third checked in baggage carousal will be added to the two existing ones in the terminal’s arrival lounge on the ground floor. For this, a VIP lounge on the ground floor will be removed to make space for the third conveyor belt.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) regional executive director (east) S P Yadav hopes the initiatives will reduce congestion in the departure and arrival lounges, providing some relief to passengers. “Bagdogra airport is bursting at the seams. Work on a new terminal will begin once the state government hands over the 104-acre plot. But it will take at least four years before it is commissioned. Till then, we have to continue to innovate,” he said.
Designed to handle 400 passengers an hour, the terminal is currently handling 3,800 passengers an hour. The number of flights to Bagdogra has shot up from 10-11 five years ago to 35 now. Air traffic at Bagdogra crossed 1 million in 2014-15, registering a growth of 43.6% against the previous years. In 2018-19, the airport served 2.8 million passengers which was an increase of 28.5% from the previous year, making it the 17th busiest airport in India.
AAI is now waiting for the state government to hand over a 104-acre plot so that it can start work on a new 1 lakh sqm terminal, 12 times the size of the current terminal. The proposed facility will have an annual capacity of 1.3 crore passengers, up from the designed capacity of 7.5 lakh passengers. The terminal handled 29 lakh passengers last year, four times the capacity it was designed for. While the current terminal does not have any aerobridges, the new terminal will have 10 aerobridges. And 16 planes will be able to park at the airport at a time, up from five at present.
“The existing terminal has a capacity to handle 400 passengers an hour. When the new facility comes up in 2023, it will be able to handle 3,800 passengers an hour. But we have to constantly do things over the next three years for small solutions to the congestion problem,” said Yadav.
Source: Times of India