Port Blair Airport to get a New Terminal building

The Port Blair airport, officially known as Veer Savarkar Airport, will have a new terminal building very soon, Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials said.

A world-class terminal building is coming up at the airport at an estimated cost of Rs 417 crore, the AAI officials said and the deadline is 2020.

Speaking to PTI, the director of Port Blair airport, George D Silva said that work on the project commenced on January 14, 2017 and the construction work is progressing as per schedule.

The built-up area of the new terminal will be 40,000 square metres and it will be able to handle 1,200 passengers — 600 domestic and 600 international passengers– at a time during peak hours, he said.

The shell-shaped design of the building has been inspired by nature – a shape which is a part of the seas and islands, the airport director said.

The height of the terminal buildings roof would vary between between 18 metres and 32 metres.

The building will have three floors. While one floor would be used as departure and as service area, the other floors would be used for access to the terminal building and for arrival of passengers, and as waiting lounge for international passengers, the airport director said.

The airport will have four aerobridges. The new building will have 10 elevators and six escalators, he said.

There will be 28 check-in counters. An in-line scan system would be used for handling baggage. There will be three conveyor belts arrival baggage, two for domestic and one for International separated, which will be separated by a sliding glass partition, D Silva said.

The building features easy check-in, ease of movement to departure gates and minimum queueing as well as nice waiting and shopping areas, D Silva added.

The entire terminal will have 100 per cent natural lighting for 12 hours a day which will be achieved by skylights along the roof.

In addition, outer glazing on the terminal will be made of low-emissivity glass, which will let light to come inside the terminal but will keep 80 per cent of the heat out, thus reducing the need for air-conditioning, D Silva said.

From the waiting lounges domestic and international passengers will get a view of the apron area (operational area) and will be able to see movement of aircraft in the airside area of the airport, another AAI official said.

The Port Blair airport is located at Lambaline. It was constructed by the Japanese forces for operating fighter planes during World War II. It was declared as an international airport in 2007.

Old inhabitants of the Islands recount that after the Japanese war, the airstrip was in a dilapidated condition and it was repaired before commercial operations commenced.

Indian Airlines began a weekly service from Calcutta to Port Blair via Rangoon in 1960 using a 21-seater DC-3 Dakota and later on replaced it by the 26-seater DC-4. The flight took seven hours to complete the journey.

Due to increasing demand, Indian Airlines (which was merged with Air India later) introduced a 126-seater Boeing 737-200 service in 1977.

The aircraft enabled a non-stop two hour service from Calcutta. In 1982, a bi-weekly service from Madras (now Chennai) was introduced and the frequency on these two routes was eventually increased.

At present, many private as well Air India flights operate to Port Blair from various places in the country. About 14 flights operate to Port Blair at present on a daily basis.

The expansion work of the Port Blair airport was actually started during the tenure of former Lt Governor, Vakkom Purushothaman by procuring land at School Line, Old Pahargoan and other adjacent areas for which adequate compensation were also paid to the land holders.

The airport was renamed as ‘Veer Savarkar Airport’ during the tenure of former Prime Minister, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But even after the airport was declared as an International airport 10 years back in 2007, no international flight operations has yet been started.

With the new NDA government focusing on infrastructure development, the construction of this airport has restarted.

According to a senior officer of Airports Authority of India (AAI) in Port Blair, the construction agency is putting its entire might to complete the airport before the scheduled date of completion.