Minister of civil aviation Suresh Prabhu has urged Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials to work out a plan to improve airside capacity of Chennai airport on Thursday. The suggestion came after he inspected the terminals and held a meeting with officials on his way back to Delhi after a day’s visit to the city.

Improving airside capacity of the airport is crucial as Tamil Nadu is yet to identify land for a second airport. Prabhu promised that he would discuss the issue of acquiring defence land for the expansion of airside of the airport. AAI is looking at 40 acres of land, including from the Officers Training Academy for hangars and to expand the apron of the airport.

However, the defence department has promised only 8 acres. He also urged AAI to discuss with the state about identifying land for the second airport, which the aviation ministry is planning to develop as a Aero City, . For close to a year now, AAI has been asking the state for the same after Sriperumbudur as an option was rejected.

The state is considering a few options – Maduranthagam, Uttiramerur, Cheyyur and Gummidipoondi – but is yet to finalise the location. Sources said Prabhu also visited the phase 2 development area where the old domestic terminal is being demolished to be replaced with a new integrated terminal. “He has asked us to install better amenities inside the new terminal,” a source said.

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