Chennai airport to get walkalator
The country’s first walkalator (horizontal escalator) inside an airport will be opened at Chennai airport next month. The conveyor belt that transports people, which is a common feature in most major airports abroad, is installed to connect aerobridges so that passengers can use it to reach the aircraft. It will reduce the distance passengers have to walk inside terminals. The facility is being installed at a cost of Rs 7 crore as part of efforts to enhance passenger amenities and optimise use of infrastructure in the airport. There are five aerobridges in the international terminal and three in the domestic terminal. Airport director K Natarajan said, “The facility will be installed in a phased manner and the first unit of the walkalator was expected to be opened by mid-August.” The first stretch of the walkalator will be useful for passengers using the recently unveiled bus lounge inside the passenger terminal. Sources said that the machines would be installed in small stretches along a 300-metre connecting corridor between terminals so that the airport would be able to use all aerobridges round the clock. Aerobridges in the international terminal remain unused during the day as not many international aircraft take off in the daytime, and aerobridges in the domestic terminal are not used at night. The walkalator will enable the airport to use all aerobridges. There will be two or three walkalators of roughly 48 metres, 24 metres or 30 metres. “We have started to install the walkalators and are trying to open one portion of it by mid-August. I have given instructions to complete civil works quickly so that it can be opened by August 15. The remaining will be ready in the subsequent months,” Natarajan said. “We can use aerobridges in the international terminal for domestic departures and arrivals after closing the international section. The same can be done on the domestic terminal also. International flights can be docked at the aerobridges on the domestic side at night,” said an official. Chennai airport will be the first AAI-owned airport to have the walkalators. Officials said that private airports may build such facilities in the future. GMR is planning to install walkalators inside its new T3 terminal building connecting 74 aerobridges at Delhi airport.