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January date for airport terminal

- Aerobridge hope for unveil
The integrated airport terminal

The airport authorities are eyeing a January opening of the upcoming integrated terminal as the first lot of five aerobridges for the facility set sail from Indonesia late on Monday.

The first lot of the aerobridges — corridors connecting the terminal to the door of an aircraft — was set to arrive in the first week of August.

“Five aerobridges set sail from Jakarta late last night on a special ship. The consignment is expected to reach Calcutta in 15-18 days,” airport director B.P. Sharma told Metro on Tuesday.

It might take another four-five days for the aerobridges to be brought to the airport and a month for installation and trials before they are opened for full-scale operations.

Thirteen more aerobridges will come in phases.

“Now that we know for sure the aerobridges are on their way, we are planning for a January opening of the integrated terminal. Initially, the terminal will be operational partially with some international flights,” an Airports Authority of India official said from Delhi.

“To start with five aerobridges are enough and we won’t say no to shifting some of the airlines operating fewer flights to the new terminal,” said Captain Sarvesh Gupta, chairman, Airlines Operators’ Committee (east).

Late arrival of the aerobridges is a key reason why the Rs 23,000-crore integrated terminal has missed three deadlines — August and December, 2011, and March 2012 — and is set to miss the October 2012 target as well.

The 1,80,000sq m terminal has been designed in such a way that 80 per cent of the fliers will have to use aerobridges to board or get off an aircraft.

Metro had in July reported that the integrated terminal, which can handle an annual traffic of 20 million passengers and has gone through two trial runs, was unlikely to be unveiled before January.

The modernisation of the Delhi airport — a private initiative with a budget of Rs 12,700 crore — was wrapped up well before the deadline.

Construction of the pillars that will support the aerobridges are almost over, officials said.

Other major unfinished work includes setting up of check-in islands and signage, and installation of software for immigration and customs counters. The tendering process for airline lounges, food courts and commercial stalls is still on.