Tagore and hi-tech - Airport revamp

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By JAYANTA ROY CHOWDHURY AND JYOTI MALHOTRA
  • Published 23.07.07
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Technology and Tagore’s Bengal will come together at Calcutta airport after its modernisation, the global tender for which will be floated by October 3.

At a meeting in New Delhi last week, civil aviation minister Praful Patel integrated wide green spaces into the blueprint for revamp. It was decided that the greenery would be visible from the glass-fronted corridors that connect the planes to the terminal.

Patel told Metro that landing at the modernised airport should “give the flier the feeling of entering Tagore’s Bengal”.

But the greenery will have to coexist with technology. The two new terminals that will come up will be “intelligent”, which means most processes will be run by computers. Sensors will control the lighting and air-conditioning systems. The airport will also provide wireless Internet access.

High-tech equipment will be used for security and air traffic control. The Communication, Navigation, Surveillance and Air Traffic Management (CNS-ATM) system will be modernised and linked with a satellite-based system called Gagan, in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation.

The new terminals will be capable of handling up to 15 million domestic travellers and five million international travellers by 2010. There will be parking spots for 28 aircraft and parking bays for 48 large aircraft. Six to eight aero-bridges will work simultaneously.

“The airport must cater to the city as it develops. There should be a Metro Railway terminus, parking space for another 5,000 cars, a meet-and-greet area and a friendly food court,” said the minister.

The revamped airport, conceived on the lines of Aeroport de Paris, will be able to accommodate the growing traffic only till 2016. A second and larger airport will have to be built by then to handle the projected 80 million passengers by 2025.

Calcutta airport is a money-spinner, according to the Airports Authority of India top brass. It earned revenue worth Rs 151 crore, with a profit of Rs 24 crore, in 2006-07.

“The revamp of the airport could attract fresh traffic. The revenue could go up at least three times within five years and profits could jump to over Rs 100 crore. We do not envisage a large increase in staff strength, which is the biggest cost factor at Rs 44 crore a year,” said an official.