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Chennai International Airport
Meenambakkam Airport
சென்னை பன்னாட்டு வானூர்தி நிலையம்
Airport type Public
Owner Government of India
Operator Airports Authority of India
Serves Chennai Metropolitan Area
Location Tirusulam, Chennai
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 52 ft / 16 m
Coordinates 12°58′56″N 80°9′49″E / 12.98222°N 80.16361°E / 12.98222; 80.16361
Direction Length Surface
ft m
07/25 12,001 3,658 Asphalt
12/30 6,708 2,045 AsphaltConcrete
Statistics (2007-08)
Passenger movements 10,659,754
Airfreight movements in tonnes 270,608
Aircraft movements 115,865
Source: DAFIF[1][2]

Chennai International Airport (IATA: MAAICAO: VOMM) (Tamil: சென்னை பன்னாட்டு வானூர்தி நிலையம் ) is located in Tirusulam, 7 km (4.3 mi) south of Chennai, India. It is one of the largest international gateways into the country, the third-busiest airport in India (after Delhi and Mumbai), and an international hub handling around 12 million passengers in 2007 and serving more than 25 different airlines. It is the second-largest cargo hub in the country, after Mumbai. It is located along Meenambakkam and Tirusulam, with passenger entry at Tirusulam and cargo entry at Meenambakkam.



The old terminal at Meenambakkam

Chennai had one of the first airports in India, and was the final destination of Air India's first flight from Bombay (Mumbai) via Belgaum in 1954. The first passenger terminal was built at the northeast side of the airfield, which lies in the suburb of Meenambakkam due to which it was referred to as Meenambakkam Airport. A new terminal complex was subsequently built at Tirusulam, further south near Pallavaram to which, passenger operations were shifted. The old terminal building is now used as a cargo terminal and is the base for the Indian courier company Blue Dart.


Chennai Airport at night

Chennai International Airport consists of three terminals: The old terminal at Meenambakkam is used for cargo, while the new passenger terminal complex at Tirusulam is used for passenger operations. The passenger terminal complex consists of the domestic and international terminals interconnected by a link building, which houses administrative offices and a restaurant. Although the complex is one continuous structure, it was built incrementally, with the Kamaraj and Anna terminals being added in 1988 to the pre-existing Meenambakkam terminal.

The first part to be built was the international terminal which had two aerobridges (jetways), followed by the domestic terminal with three aerobridges. After the completion of the domestic terminal, the old terminal at Meenambakkam was used exclusively for cargo. Recently the international terminal was extended further south by adding a new block which includes three aerobridges. At present, the new international block is used for departures while the older building is used for arrivals.

Terminals, airlines and destinations

Domestic flights operate from the Kamaraj Domestic Terminal (KDT), while the Anna International Terminal (AIT) is for international flights. The old terminal at Meenambakkam is used for Cargo Operations.

Domestic routes from Chennai
An Air Mauritius Boeing 767-300ER seen from the viewing gallery
Ramp view
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air Arabia Sharjah International
Air Asia Kuala Lumpur [begins 17 May], Penang [begins 28 April][3] International
Air India Dammam International
Air-India Express Abu Dhabi, Colombo, Dubai, Hyderabad, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Singapore, Tiruchirappalli, Trivandrum International
Air India Regional Bangalore, Delhi, Nagpur, Visakhapatnam Domestic
Air Mauritius Mauritius International
British Airways London-Heathrow International
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International
Emirates Dubai International
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi International
Gulf Air Bahrain International
Indian Airlines Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Madurai, Mumbai, Port Blair, Trivandrum Domestic
Indian Airlines Cochin, Colombo, Dubai, Goa, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Mumbai, Singapore, Trivandrum International
IndiGo Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune Domestic
Jet Airways Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Madurai, Mumbai, Pune, Trivandrum Domestic
Jet Airways Brussels, Colombo, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, New York-JFK, Singapore International
JetLite Colombo International
JetLite Delhi, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam Domestic
Kingfisher Airlines Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Khajuraho, Madurai, Mangalore, Mumbai, Port Blair, Pune, Salem, Trichy, Trivandrum, Tuticorin, Varanasi, Visakhapatnam Domestic
Kingfisher Airlines Colombo International
Kuwait Airways Kuwait International
Lufthansa Frankfurt International
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur International
Oman Air Muscat International
Paramount Airways Ahmedabad, Agartala, Bangalore, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Madurai, Pune, Trivandrum, Tiruchirapalli Domestic
Qatar Airways Doha International
Saudi Arabian Airlines Jeddah, Riyadh International
SilkAir Singapore [begins 14 June][4] International
Singapore Airlines Singapore International
SpiceJet Ahmedabad, Bagdogra, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune Domestic
Sri Lankan Airlines Colombo International
Thai Airways International Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Dubai International
Tiger Airways Singapore International

Cargo Terminal

A Cargolux Boeing 747-4R7F/SCD parked at Chennai Airport.
Cargo Airlines
Air India Cargo Atlas Air Blue Dart Aviation
British Airways World Cargo CARGOLUX Cathay Pacific Airways Cargo
Champion Air DHL Aviation Deccan 360
Eastern Caribbean Airlines Emirates Sky Cargo Ethiopian Cargo
Etihad Crystal Cargo Euro Cargo Air FedEx Express
Global Supply Systems Great Wall Airlines Gulf Air Cargo[5]
Jade Cargo International Jett8 Airlines Cargo Korean Air
Lufthansa Cargo Martinair Cargo MASkargo
Midex Airlines Nice Helicopters Polar Air Cargo
Qatar Airways Cargo San Juan Airlines Singapore Airlines Cargo
Southern Air SriLankan Cargo Thai Airways Cargo
Transmile Air Services

MRO hangar facility

Airlines that have Hangar facilities at Chennai
Air India
Indian Airlines
Kingfisher Airlines

Facts and figures

Anna International Terminal

Currently, Chennai airport handles about 25 aircraft movements every hour, which will be saturated by the year 2014-15. However, peak hour traffic handling capability will be exhausted much earlier than that. Anna International Terminal handled 3,410,253 passengers in 2007-08 and has the capacity of handling 3M passengers annually, Already it has surpassed the passenger handling capacity. Similarly, Kamaraj Domestic Terminal, which handled 7,249,501 passengers in 2007-08, has the capacity to handle 6 million passengers annually. Here again the terminal demand far exceeds the capacity. In all Chennai airport handled a capacity of 10,659,754 passengers in 2007 - 08. The airport handled cargo of a total of 270,608 tonnes in 2007 - 08[citation needed].

  • In 2007-08, the existing airport handled 1,15,865 aircraft movements and its capacity to handle aircraft movements is likely to be saturated by 2014-15.
  • The existing airport can handle about 25 aircraft movement per hour and even after expansion, the airport will get saturated by 2014-15 and the Greenfield Airport has to be ready by then. The same logic has been applied in Mumbai, where the Navi Mumbai International Airport is to be ready by the time, the existing one gets saturated around the same time.
  • The AAI is of the view that a logical thing would be to construct a new domestic terminal and allow simultaneous use of the cross runways there. These things can take us through till the year 2015.


  • Third biggest in the country in terms of passengers, and second biggest in terms of cargo
  • First ISO 9000 certified airport in the country, which it received in 2001
  • 1st to have international, domestic and cargo terminals adjacent to each other
  • 1st to have aerobridge (at domestic terminal)
  • 1st to have walkalators (at the international terminal)
  • 1st to use domestic terminal for international flight on wheels
  • 1st to supply free mineral water through designated water coolers at Kamaraj domestic terminal & Anna international terminal
  • 1st to introduce paper cups at Airport to make it environment friendly
  • Exclusive sub-urban airport railway station airport, which will soon become an integrated metro rail terminus as well
  • 1st airport to host international operations by private Indian carriers (Jet Airways to Colombo)
  • 2nd to have a runway passing over a river(Secondary runway over Adyar river)(Under Construction)

Modernisation and expansion

Upgraded Baggage Claim Area at the international terminal

The Chennai Airport has been slated for modernisation and expansion. The works are to be carried out by the Airports Authority of India and include the creation of a parallel runway, taxiways, aprons and new passenger terminal buildings. The expansion works will involve the acquisition of land in nearby areas. The expansion of the existing airport would be taken up at Manapakkam, Kolapakkam, Gerugambakkam and Tharapakkam in Sriperumbudur taluk after a resolution to this effect was adopted by the government.

The government would provide suitable compensation to 947 households in these areas and also rehabilitation to them.[citation needed] The rehabilitation of the households would be done in the first phase of the expansion work itself.

The modernisation and restructuring is expected to cost around Rs 2,350 crore, of which the cost of construction of the runway, taxiway and apron would be around Rs 1,100 crore, while the cost of construction of the terminal building, cargo building, car park and face uplift would be Rs 1,250 crore.[citation needed]

As per the modernisation plan, the secondary runway will be built over the Adyar river by means of a bridge. The runway will extend across Adyar river. A bridge will be built over the river to accommodate the runway and a taxiway. This makes Chennai Airport, the only international airport in India to have a runway across the river[citation needed]. In Mumbai only an end of the runway is over Mithi river. The secondary runway extension will cost around Rs 430 crore and will be completed in 2010[citation needed]. [6]

The proposed Chennai Metro Rail Project will connect the Chennai International Airport to various parts of the City. Tentatively, the project is programmed for completion in the financial year 2013-2014.[7]

Proposed new passenger terminals

The current development projects include construction of a new domestic terminal and expansion of the current International terminal. The design is a collaborative effort of four firms. While Hargreaves Associates has done the landscape design Gensler and Frederic Schwartz Architects are responsible for the design of the passengers terminal buildings, parking garage structures and access roadway access system. The Creative Group would be the local architects for the project. The proposed design will be connected with the existing terminal design elements. It was earlier reported that the new terminal buildings will have a handling capacity of 10 million passengers and when integrated with existing terminals will provide for a handling capacity of 23 million passengers a year. The new terminal buildings are expected to have an area of about 1, 40,000 sq. m. with 140 check-in counters and 60 immigration counters and the two runways would be interconnected by a network of taxiways. The Terminal complex will have a Flyover Travelator connecting the Domestic Terminal and International Terminal for a distance of about 1 km. It will have an elevated road on the top and a tube below which will have two Walkalators[8]

The design details of the runways are handled by the Airports Authority of India, while architecture firms are limited to designing buildings on the landside of the runway. The present proposal is parallel to the existing runway. The entire design as being organised around “two lush sustainable gardens” and the wing-like roofs helps collect rainwater and become part of the garden.[9]

Proposed new integrated cargo complex

An integrated cargo complex will be built in the cargo complex of the Chennai International Airport. The complex would be constructed, at a cost of Rs. 145 crore, in 15 months. While the ground floor would measure 21,000 square metres, the first floor would be built on 12,100 square metres. The new building would be used exclusively for import activities. Once the civil works were completed, the Automatic Storage and Retrieval System would be installed. It would cost Rs. 75 crore.[10]

New Greenfield Airport

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has announced the setting up of a new greenfield airport at Sriperumbudur and Tiruvallur taluks, apart from the expansion of the existing airport at Tirusulam.

The greenfield airport would come up on 3,486.66 acres (14.1100 km2), expansion of Chennai airport would be done on 1,069.99 acres (4.3301 km2) at an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore.

Initially the work for the greenfield airports was to be entrusted to the Airports Authority of India (AAI). However, the greenfield airport, coming up at Sriperumbudur near Chennai will be developed under a public-private partnership. The Prime Minister’s Committee has also asked for a pre-feasibility report for this airport.

The greenfield airport will have four runways. Eyeing Chennai airport, leading global airport developers are forging alliances with Indian players for bidding for the project. The companies interested in the project include Singapore Changi Airport, Macquarie Group, GMR Group, GVK Industries Ltd. and Tata Group.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has clarified that “there is no role for the AAI in developing the greenfield airport near Chennai”.

The new airport is expected to be completed within 28 months of work commencement.

Greenfield Airport Project shelved?

The much-expected second airport at Sriperumbudur may not take off as both the Centre and the state government are preparing to shelve the project.

Even as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has undertaken a techno-economic feasibility study of the project, a senior official in the Union civil aviation ministry said that the government is convinced that there is no urgent need for a second airport in the city, as the existing airport at Meenambakkam is being expanded.[11]

Transport links

The airport is situated on the busy Grand Southern Trunk Road (National Highway 45) and is also served by the Airport station (Tirusulam) on the Suburban railway network. The proposed Metro Rail System (Chennai Metro) will also connect the Airport with other important places in Chennai.

Incidents and accidents

In August 1984, a bomb blast 1,200 meters from the airport killed 33 persons and injured 27 others.[12]

See also


External links


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