The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Airport on upgrade flight
- Metro takes a sneak peek into the changes under way at the domestic terminal

A sprawling, new-look lounge, conveyor belts with in-built X-ray machines, more check-in counters, more parking space for planes ' today's chaos at Calcutta airport may well be a prelude to tomorrow's cool.

The Airports Authority of India is spending around Rs 120 crore to upgrade the airport, and the difference will soon begin to show. 'The ongoing work is part of our plans to bring Calcutta airport on a par with other leading airports,' said airport director V.K. Monga.

At the domestic terminal, there's a lot to look forward to:

CANOPY: To increase lounge space, a canopy is being built from one end of the building to the other. Stretching over 2,650 sq m, it will be erected in three phases. Work will be completed by the year-end.

COUNTERS: With a number of new airlines scheduled to start operations from Calcutta later this year, 12 new counters have been set up. There are 33 existing counters for the domestic players.

A new computerised programme ' Common Utility of Terminal Equipment (CUTE) ' will be installed at the departure counters, to enable passengers to check in at any counter.

FLOORING: The entire floor of the airport's domestic lounge is being spruced up with new tiles, covering an area of approximately 1.5 lakh sq ft. The resurfacing will be complete in three months.

CONVEYOR BELTS: A new conveyor belt has been installed in the departure zone; it will become operational in about two months. There are currently two in operation. These belts will soon have in-built X-ray machines, so the X-ray machines now used to screen checked-in baggage on the ground floor will be removed. New, online X-ray machines will be installed to check registered luggage.

A new conveyor belt has been planned in the arrival zone, too, in addition to the existing three. Installation work will start in a couple of months.

SECURITY: To avoid congestion at the security hold on the ground floor, five X-ray machines will be installed in two security holds on the first floor. Installation of X-ray machines will allow optimum utilisation of the first-floor security holds.

Two new escalators will be built, helping passengers to use the two security check counters upstairs.

BACK OFFICES: A dedicated back office for the airlines has been set up. The newly-built, two-storeyed structure inside the domestic terminal, near the departure zone, is spread over 5,000 sq ft. The airlines will use the new building for administrative work.

BAYS: Six new bays to provide more parking space for aircraft. Three are adjacent to the terminal building, the rest are at a distance. Three new aerobridges will be installed for the in-contact bays.

RUNWAY: The extension and resurfacing of the secondary runway has started and will be completed by March 2007. It will be stretched by 440 m on the northern side. The length of the primary runway is 3,627 m, while the secondary runway is 2,399 m.

Bigger aircraft can then land on the secondary runway as well. Unable to move the mosque next to the tarmac at the airport, the authorities have worked a way around it to extend the secondary runway.

Work to strengthen the surface with bitumen has started.

NEW CARGO BUILDING: An integrated international cargo building and a state-of-the-art perishable-cargo complex will be commissioned on July 31. The cargo complex, covering 20,000 sq m, will have the capacity to handle 40,000 metric tonnes of cargo. The air-conditioned complex for perishable cargo is coming up on a 600-sq-m plot.

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