Chennai International Airport (previously known as Madras International Airport) is located in Tirusulam, a suburb 7km south of Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.

It was one of the first airports of India and served Air India flights from Mumbai during the 1950s. The airport is owned by the Government of India and is operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The airport’s first passenger terminal was built at Meenambakkam town, and now acts as a major cargo base. In 1988, a new terminal complex was built at Tirusulam, adjacent to Meenambakkam.

The terminal complex includes an international and a domestic terminal adjacent to each other. The airport has two runways.

Chennai International Airport is India’s third busiest in terms of passenger handling, behind Mumbai and Delhi International Airports.

During 2009 and 2010, the airport handled 3.86 million international passengers and 6.67 million domestic passengers. During the financial year 2011 the airport handled 12.05 million passengers. It is the second-largest airport in terms of air cargo, behind Mumbai, and handled international cargo traffic of over 300,000t and domestic cargo of 93,000t during the financial year 2011. The aircraft movements at the airport during this time totalled 110,778. The airport has a capacity to handle 320 to 330 aircraft.

“Chennai International Airport (previously known as Madras International Airport) is located at Tirusulam.”

In 2001, Chennai Airport became the first international airport in the country to receive ISO-9001-2000 certification. The airport is currently undergoing a $2.6bn modernisation and expansion to increase its capacity to 30 million passengers a year.

The AAI, which is responsible for integrated development of airports in the country, has taken up the expansion work.

In July 2008, the public investment board (PIB) gave clearance for the development plans at the airport. AAI will fund about 80% of the project and 20% will be through commercial borrowings.

The work was planned to be completed by the second half of 2011 but later postponed to early 2013. The expansion will transform the airport into the greenest airport in India thanks to its sustainable technology. It is also set to become the largest modern airport in South Asia.

Chennai Airport expansion

The expansion that began construction in October 2008 includes a new domestic terminal, modernisation of the existing domestic terminal and expansion of the international terminal.

The new domestic terminal and international terminal expansion will increase the area to 142,700m² enabling the movement of more than 23 million passengers annually. The terminals will be connected by a 1km flyover and will feature two moving walkways.

After the upgrade, there will be four aerobridges for international passengers and six for domestic passengers.

The 15,700m² Anna international terminal can currently handle three million passengers a year. It will be expanded by 59,300m² to increase its passenger handling capacity by an additional four million passengers a year.

The upgraded international terminal will be able to handle a capacity of approximately 4,450 passengers during peak hours and is expected to reach saturation during 2015.

It will have eight aerobridges and eight conveyor belts. Construction of the international terminal was completed in July 2011. The 13,000m² Kamaraj domestic terminal can handle six million passengers a year. A new 67,700m² domestic terminal is being built with a capacity to handle ten million passengers a year.

The overall domestic terminal capacity will be augmented to 16 million passengers a year. It will have a peak-hour capacity of 5,360 passengers and is expected to reach saturation by 2019.

Construction work is expected to be completed in early 2013 at an estimated cost of $466.78m.The development also includes construction of a parallel runway interconnected by a taxiway, aprons, two multilevel car parking garages with 1,200 spaces each and improvement of roadway access and infrastructure.

The airport will also have an integrated cargo complex with ground floor space of 21,000m² and first floor area of 12,100m². An Rs0.75bn automatic storage and retrieval system will also be installed at the complex.

Terminal features at Chennai International

The international and domestic terminals are connected by a building containing administrative offices and a restaurant.

“Chennai International Airport is India’s third busiest in terms of passenger handling.”

The terminals feature basic passenger amenities such as a health scan facility at the domestic terminal, auto vending machines for snacks and magazines, dormitory accommodation and retiring rooms facilities, communication centre for web browsing and video and phone conferencing facilities.

The terminal also offers special assistance including lounges and reserved parking areas for physically handicapped passengers and an infant lobby. The existing international terminal has two aerobridges while the domestic terminal has three.

Check-in, customs and immigration

After the expansion, the airport will have 140 check-in counters, 60 immigration counters, seven security gates (three international, four domestic), four conveyor belts and seven aerobridges. The upgraded international terminal will have an X-ray baggage handling facility. At present there are 37 check-in and 22 immigration counters.

Runways at India’s Chennai International Airport

The airport has two runways – 07/25 of 3,658m (asphalt) and 12/30 of 2,045m (asphalt / concrete). The Tamil Nadu State Government has allocated 130 acres of land for the development of a second runway.

The construction of the secondary runway began in May 2009 and is being built over the Adyar River by means of a bridge including a taxiway. The project, costing Rs4.3bn, was completed in 2011 but there were many obstructions preventing the extension to meet the specified standards of International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Road and railway infrastructure

Chennai International Airport is well connected with the state-run bus services and taxis. There is also a special bus service to and from the airport.

The government is also working on construction of an elevated express highway from Maduravoyal to Chennai Port. The project is estimated to cost Rs16.55bn.

The Chennai Metro rail project will connect the airport with various parts of the city by 2013. The cost of the project is estimated to be $3.2bn.

Contractors

“Chennai International Airport is well connected with the state-run bus services and taxis.”

The AAI selected a team of architects for the expansion plan through an international design competition held in June 2007. The team consists of US-based Frederic Schwartz Architects, Hargreaves Associates and Gensler and New Delhi-based Creative Group.

In October 2008, the AAI awarded Rs12.1bn airport expansion contract to a joint venture of Consolidated Construction Consortium (CCCL) and Canadian infrastructure company Herve Pomerleau International.

CCCL’s consortium includes Punj Lloyd, L&T and Nagarjuna Constructions. CCCL is also involved in construction of a new Rs68bn cargo complex at Chennai Airport.

In October 2009, Areva’s transmission and distribution division (T&D) was awarded a Rs556m power distribution and gas insulated substation system’s supply and installation package. BSCPL Infrastructure was contracted for the bays expansion in south including three aerobridges for air traffic operations.