Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
Chhatrapati Shivaji is India’s second busiest airport after Delhi, but despite the opening of its stunning new Terminal 2, still has a reputation among travelers. In part this is due to the haphazard nature
of the terminal layout; Terminal 1, which is dedicated to domestic flights, is located in the Santacruz section of Mumbai. This facility is actually comprised of three adjacent structures, one of which is the original 1950s-era terminal building – although it’s undergone considerable renovations through the years.
Some 20 minutes away by bus is the new T2, which was opened in 2014. The $1.5 billion structure is a striking contrast for Mumbai, with nearly 5 million square feet of space across four levels. While both terminals use the same runways and airside facilities, they are about as far apart as they can be – both physically and aesthetically – and still be counterintuitively called the same airport.
That leaves the state of Maharashtra’s capital city with the tantalizing possibility of its new greenfield airport at Navi Mumbai. Long mired in politics, the project has languished since it was first proposed in 1997. In the past year, however, the initiative has regained momentum and now ground work actually underway on the 5,700-acre site in the Kopar-Panvel area of Mumbai.
According to recent news reports, much of the credit for the renewed progress goes to the involvement of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The project had been delayed due to property disputes and objections of various ministries. However most of these issues have been resolved, and the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), which is the agency spearheading the project, says it has received a go-ahead from the central government.
In December, Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, tweeted that the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport will be operational by the end of the decade. “As all the environmental-related permissions are cleared for the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport, this project will be operational by 2019,”Fadnavis posted on Twitter.
The new terminal will have an area of 2.7 million square feet and over 1 million square feet of cargo space. When it opens, the airport will be able to handle 35 million passengers and ultimately 50 to 55 million passengers annually by 2025, according to CIDCO.
The Honor System
Perhaps the most telling measure of the improvements at India’s airports can be gained from a look at the recent industry association awards these facilities have garnered in the last few years.
Airports Council International named Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport the World’s Best Airport in 2014 in the category of airports handling 25 to 40 million passengers per year.
Likewise Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport was ACI’s Third Best Airport in the World in five to15 million passengers per year category in the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards for 2014. This is the 6th consecutive year RGIA has been among the top three airports in its category.
Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport was ranked third among the World’s Most Improved Airports by the Skytrax World Airports Awards 2015 and was named one of the Top 5 airports in Central Asia. CSIA was also one of the Top 5 Airports worldwide among those in the 25 to 40 million passengers category in the ACI Airport Service Quality Awards 2014.
While awards by themselves are no guarantee of a great airport experience, they do provide a barometer for rising expectations. And in a nation where expectations are rapidly becoming reality, these gateways are certainly indicative of a promising future.
Image: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport