AAI team inspects two sites for second Chennai airport

CHENNAI: The move to set up a second airport for the city gained momentum on Wednesday when a team from Airports Authority of India (AAI) headquarters that included senior officers from Air Navigation Services inspected two sites in the city — Parandur between Kancheepuram and Arakkonam, and another site between Mamandur and Cheyyur.

A senior AAI official said they completed the site visit and would check other parameters based on documents and survey. The state government has promised to acquire around 3,500 acres of land for the project. “The state government prefers a site which is not too far from the airport and south of Chennai. So the team will have to look at airspace management at locations near Chennai airport,” he said. The locations are around 80km from Chennai.

In addition to checking whether its proximity to Chennai airport will be an issue, the team will look for obstacles such as hills and buildings, the proximity to defence airfields, and wind pattern.

Chennai’s airspace is constricted by the presence of defence airpsace in Tambaram and Arakkonam. However, the ministry is working to coordinate with defence for use of airspace and airfields for commercial planes.

Sources said proximity to another airport may not be a hindrance because air traffic can be managed to overcome it. Ministry of civil aviation has also waived the distance stipulated between two airports after the concept of second airports in big cities emerged. Navi Mumbai airport is 45km from the Mumbai airport.

The team is expected to submit a report to a committee in New Delhi. After the committee, which has members from different ministries, picks a site, AAI will conduct further studies to identify locations.

AAI will require around 1,500 acres to 2,000 acres to build a second airport. It will be developed as an aerocity with space for aviation businesses, maintenance and repairs units and training units. Chennai airport is expected to saturate in 2024. AAI may consider shifting international operations to the second airport.

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