In a big move to ease air traffic, the Union ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) has planned to open a new airport in Chennai. Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the central government will hold a 51% stake in the airport at a whopping investment of INR 40,000 crore, the second in the southern metropolis.
The proposed airport, which is likely to operate flights to eight international destinations, is expected to employ at least 1.5 lakh persons in the next eight years.
The government has identified two sites in Pannur and Parandur, and the work is expected to commence by the end of 2022. “However, no fixed time for commencement of the airport work has been decided as of now,” said a civil aviation ministry official.
MoCA said that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has found two sites which are more feasible for airport projects as per the availability of air space and other factors.
A team of experts from the AAI and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) inspected four locations – Padalam, Pannur, Thiruporur and Parandur – a few months ago, following which a pre-feasibility report was prepared and recommendations were made.
Officials said that depending on the site selected by the state government and MoCA, a detailed Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) survey, techno-economic feasibility study and other mandatory reports will be prepared.
However, both Pannur and Parandur have issues such as extra high-tension pylons, mobile towers and electrical poles in the vicinity of the site.
While Pannur and Parandur have been identified for the project, Scindia said the work for the project will start by early September this year. “By 2024 Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the second airport in Chennai. This is the dream of Modi, let me fulfil it,” Scindia has said.
A greenfield airport for Chennai requires at least 2,000-3,000 acres of land. Now, TIDCO will hold discussions with the state government on the next course of action for choosing a site.
Thiruporur will be the closest to the existing Chennai airport in Tirusulam and the travel time is about a little over an hour while it takes nearly an hour-and-a-half to commute from the present airport to Pannur and Padalam. Parandur will be the farthest and it will be a two-hour journey from Tirusulam.
There were discussions for a scaled-down facility on 2,000 acres or a full-fledged facility on around 4,500 acres. There were also discussions within AAI to move international flights to the new airport and develop it into an ‘aero city’ with MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) unit and aviation ancillary industries.