On Saturday, Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL)’s director of operations, Frank McCrorie, sent to all airlines a 45-day notice to prepare for shifting to the new terminal and changing their flight schedules. International operations will be suspended for a few hours during the transition.
The new terminal will have bigger areas for check-in, security check and baggage delivery. The new terminal, called T2, will initially handle only international flights; domestic operations might shift there later. The Mumbai airport handles 30 million passengers a year. The new terminal, spread over 439,000 sq metres, is expected to handle 40 million annually.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to inaugurate the terminal this month so that the launch does not clash with the Election Commision’s code of conduct but operations will begin from January. Passenger traffic at the Mumbai airport is low on Wednesday and, hence, January 15 has been chosen as the launch date.
“Operational readiness trials have been carried out I can say 85-90 per cent of the work in the new terminal is complete. Work on the elevated road to the terminal is still on. Airport lounges and retail and shopping areas in the terminal are not ready,” said an airline executive.
MIAL did not respond to an email query seeking comments.
MIAL, a joint venture of the GVK group, the Airport Authority of India, Airports Company of South Africa and Bids Services Division, Mauritius, is executing the Rs 12,380-crore airport modernisation project. The work on the new terminal building began in February 2009 but hit a road block as the state government dithered on relocating a statue of Maratha leader Shivaji because of opposition from political parties. The statue was finally shifted in August 2011.
While the old international terminal has 80 immigration counters, T2 will have 140. Immigration delay is one of the main grouse of passengers arriving or departing from Mumbai and the situation might hardly change even after the opening of new terminal. This is because the home affairs ministry has not sanctioned additional manpower for the extra counters. The relief is that the new terminal has a larger waiting area in the pre-immigration section, which will reduce crowding.
An airport official said, “At the Mumbai airport, the immigration department handles each flight in 18 minutes, among the quickest, but the problem arises due to near-simultaneous arrival or departure of flights. Immigration delay can stretch to 30-45 minutes and at times is causing flight delays.”