Chennai: Though scores of Airports Authority of India staff, immigration officials, customs officers, security guards and taxi drivers kept the brand new Anna International Terminal buzzing, the first flight that landed for the trial run kept them waiting for almost an hour. The Sri Lankan Airways flight UL 127 carrying 227 passengers arrived at 3.15 pm as opposed to the original scheduled time of 2.25 pm. However, once the plane docked with the brand-new aerobridge and the passengers started streaming out, the excitement of being the first to break the terminal in, was palpable.
Constructed with exactly the same steel-and-glass styling used on the domestic terminal, the 6,51,300 sq ft behemoth amazed most of the people who walked out of it. “I have been flying to Chennai since ‘86 and while the old airport was nothing bad, this is simply stupendous. It reminds me a lot of walking out of the Dubai airport,” said Rushdie, the first Lankan passenger to leave the terminal.
Many exclamations of surprise and good efficiency were elicited from the passengers who came out next but Fayazuddin made an interesting observation, “There were only a few immigration staff today and we were able to finish clearance immediately. Generally in the old terminal it takes hours sometimes. Will this problem persist when they open completely?” he wondered. Interestingly there are 12 counters for arrival for immigration and departure at the new terminal.
The first flight that landed for the trial run kept the passengers and officials waiting for almost an hour.
While airport director HS Suresh said everything went off smoothly, he also added that the next step was ensuring the domestic terminal became operational within the next month. Only after this can the international terminal schedule an opening and begin operations.
However, departures are a different ballgame here — not only had airlines refused to do a trial run departure in the domestic terminal, the international domestic terminal still looks like it has quite a bit of “finishing” work pending.