• Kolkata airport: Up in the air, bitter to better

    Nearly 13 million passengers used the integrated terminal at Kolkata airport in 2016, up from 10 million a couple of years ago. Designed to handle 20 million passengers a year, there is room to accommodate more fliers without the terminal getting cramped for space.
    Yet, it is the apparent emptiness of the stark steel and glass building that appears disconcerting to passengers, particularly during the afternoon lean hours. “The Kolkata airport is alright for transit but not an engaging place like the Mumbai or Delhi airport. If one arrives for a flight early, heshe tends to get bored because there aren’t enough things to do,” remarked Amit Ghosh, an executive who travels between Delhi and Kolkata at least once a fortnight.
    Graphic artist Sucharita Sengupta, who is also a frequent flier, says the Kolkata airport feels rather drab. “The minimalist design is fine. I like the ceiling graphic. But a dash of colour can spice up the place and make a big difference,” she felt.
    Kolkata airport authorities say they have been listening to passenger feedback and are on the verge of making several changes to address these issues. “The airport experience that we propose to offer in 2017 will be far superior to the current one.While continuing to enjoy the efficiency, there will be a lot more to delight passengers,” said airport director Atul Dixit.
    The biggest change that will happen is on the retail front with shops offering a wide collection of apparel, jewellery, leather shoes, bags and accessories, cosmetics, sunglasses, travel bags and accessories. The stores spread across both the arrival and departure sections in the domestic and international wing of the integrated terminal will add up to more than 14,000 sqft.
    Among the brands that may find a place in the terminal are Aurelia, Blackberry, Pepe Jeans, WH Smith and Zodiac in apparel, Da Milano, Hidesign, Kompanero, Lavie, Eske and Pavers in leather shoes and goods, Samsonite and VIP Bags in luggage and Color Bar and Go Color in cosmetics. Porsche Design, a subsidiary of German carmaker Porsche AG is also likely to be present in the terminal. Electronics goods and liquor are, however, unlikely to figure as the margins are very low.
    The duty-free section is also being enhanced to offer passengers wider choice and better shopping experience. Spread across four locations in the international wing, the duty-free retail space will add up to 6,500 sqft.
    While the cosmetic changes are expected to make a difference, there will be alterations on the infrastructure front too. Airport officials hope to put the three aerobridges in the old domestic airport that now lie idle back into use, thereby taking the number of aerobridges for domestic flights to 16.”We have linked the old terminal to the integrated terminal. Sometime next year, we wish to make the departure security hold area in the terminal operational so that more passengers can use aerobridges,” the airport director said.
    Takeoff and touchdown at the airport will also become a lot smoother with the primary runway being re-carpeted to iron out the bumps. Though the shutdown of the main runway during the day will cause some inconvenience to flight operations on days when visibility drops due to fog, when the work gets over in March-April 2017, airlines hope to get a silky smooth runway. Ben Gedeon Authentic Jersey

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