Anticipation has recently gripped commuters travelling to and from Kolkata and an end to their wait is finally in the offing. The eagerly awaited, world class, chrome and glass integrated terminal building will finally be thrown open for flight operations from March 11.
As an added bonus, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has decided not to begin charging the user development fee (UDF) - an extra charge of Rs. 500 on domestic flights and Rs. 1,000 for international flights - till March 15.
March 11 was chosen as the propitious date at an AAI meeting with all airport stakeholders on Thursday. This also indicates a closure to the stalemate between airlines operating out of the city and the AAI, regarding the move to the new terminal building.
Sources at the airport said that the new terminal would be thrown open after midnight Sunday, March 10. Jet Airways is geared up to inaugurate the new airport by being the first flight to take off from there.
“We have reviewed the situation and most unfinished work at the terminal is complete. Minor projects that are still pending will be finished by March 11,” said the Airport Operators’ Committee (AOC) chairman Sarvesh Gupta.
“We had a series of meetings over the last two or three days with all the stakeholders at the airport and finally decided the date of the new airport’s launch. All systems that were installed have been tested and the terminal is ready to take off,” said NSBCI director, BP Sharma.
Some airlines may have had reservations about making the big move, but the airport director assured that the matter had been sorted out. “Airlines such as Singapore Airlines have already signed the agreement with the company providing services at the airport and the other airlines will shortly sign the agreement,” Sharma added.
“Now, we have to issue notifications informing people that the new terminal is opening and announce the date,” said Sharma, congratulating all stakeholders at the airport and the people of Bengal.
The airport director also said that a detailed plan has been worked out regarding the transition process. “We had announced it earlier and still maintain that UDF will not be taken from passengers till we provide all services. This is why UDF will only be charged from March 15,” Sharma said.
Rest assured that passengers who have already booked tickets will not have to pay the UDF, but passengers booking tickets from now on would have to pay the UDF for flights after March 15, sources said. President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the integrated terminal building on January 20 and Air India operated a token flight on January 23.