Aviation

Madurai airport in need of upgrade

MADURAI: Madurai airport has been seeing an increasing number of flyers over the recent few years, its development in terms of runway expansion has been mired in delays for years.

Looked upon as the way forward for the airport, the expansion will enable bigger flights to land here, reports The Times of India.

Meanwhile, the terminal building, which was put to use in 2010, has been hamstrung by space constraints with the growing passenger traffic.

The airport has been witnessing an impressive rise in the number of passengers. In 2013 only 6.39 lakh passengers used the terminal including 1.02 lakh international passengers. The number grew rapidly to 9.69 lakh passengers including 2.72 lakh international passengers in 2016. In other words, only an average of 53,326 passengers per month used the terminal in 2013 whereas in 2017 it has almost doubled to 98, 717.

Industrial bodies in Madurai too have been demanding better facilities including runway expansion. President of Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce (TNCC) N Jagatheesan said that at present Madurai airport terminal could handle only 250 outbound and 250 inbound passengers at a time. During noon when the domestic traffic was higher, not much space was available for the passengers. He also pointed out that Trichy and Tuticorin airports were going for terminal building expansion and Madurai would soon lag behind. AAI officials said the situation was being managed through a temporary arrangement — by using up the space available for international passengers.

Mohammed Mustafa, an airport enthusiast hailing from Madurai working in Dubai, said “The day the airport will struggle to handle the crowd is not too far away if immediate efforts are not taken for the expansion of the terminal building. The issue needs to be addressed with priority. While many keep insisting on runway expansion as if it is the only way to development, the congested terminal is fast becoming a problem. But many fail to notice it,” he said.

However, senior president of TNCC S Rethinavelu said that unlike Trichy airport, where construction of new building was planned, Madurai terminal was constructed with far-sighted plan and there was no need to construct a new building. The space could be expanded by adding compartments for which they had petitioned the authorities and expect it to materealise soon.

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