News

Mumbai airport: not as bad as you think

9 Jul 2009

Airports in India have long been notorious for outdated infrastructure, poor service and sub-standard safety procedures, but that appears to be slowly but surely changing.

Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) – named after a noted 17th century ruler – is undergoing a massive refurbishment and expansion programme. Work to produce an integrated passenger terminal, catering to both international and domestic passengers, kicked off in 2006 with results being unveiled in stages.

The package of improvements includes among others:

  • A total of 184 check-in counters in both domestic and international terminals
  • 65,032sqm of retail, dining, lounges and travel services again in both terminals
  • Ability to handle 9,900 passengers during the peak hours
  • A new Rapid Exit Taxiway which started operating last November

Business Traveller went through Mumbai Airport, experiencing both its international and domestic terminals in the period between June 23 and July 2, and could not report any major inconvenience – considering that work is ongoing – except for two outstanding ones: the traffic around Sahar where the facility is located (but that’s a Mumbai-wide problem) and when departing, bottlenecks in the security process (women travellers though will happily discover their queue is always shorter than the men’s).

All hand-carry items must be tagged, if not, the security personnel will definitely send you back to the check-in counter to secure one.

After being cleared, passengers take the escalator down to the departure hall, which is anchored by a spacious and well-lit retail and food “lane”. At the moment, offerings are still basic, meaning there is a DFS store and fast-food staples like Pizza Hut and a noodle bar and even an Indian Film Festival Academy-themed café, IIFA Buzz.

Airline lounges such as those of British Airways and Jet Airways are also located in this area.

Seating by the various gates still seems inadequate, especially during full flights, leaving a number of passengers to stand fidgeting. Some gates have mobile phone recharging kiosks.

Mumbai Airport is still a work-in-progress and more changes will come on line in the months ahead.

THE FUTURE: The masterplan for CSIA includes construction of a brand-new integrated terminal, designed by leading architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill able to handle 40 million passengers a year.

For further information see, www.csia.in

Margie T Logarta

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