At 1.20 pm Wednesday, Air India flight 343 from Singapore via Chennai to Mumbai received a water cannon salute and passengers seated inside informed about a ‘surprise’. They were the first lot to be hosted by the city’s new terminal, T2. Welcomed with a traditional tikka and rose buds, they were indulged with goodie bags and permanent baggage tags specially created for the occasion stating ‘First to Experience T2’.
The new terminal at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) was declared open Wednesday with a ceremonial playing of drums for passengers of AI 343 and Emirates flight from Dubai. Muthu Kumar, the first Air India passenger to come out of the airport, was visibly surprised at the welcome. Kumar, who arrived from Chennai, said the terminal is of international standards.
Many others termed the four-level building “comparable to international standards”. Passengers shot pictures instead of taking their luggage out on arrival at the departure gate of T2 early on Wednesday.
Another passenger from Chennai, Arunima Taluka (23), said, “It is a beautiful building and one can easily compare it with the terminal at Dubai. The ambience was great. We were the first ones to arrive and got a nice reception from the airport staff.”
For international passengers, who had to clear immigration, the new terminal was equally alluring. Lisa Krumpholz (26), a German chemical engineer who arrived for the first time in Mumbai, said, “It was a pleasing welcome and a nice surprise as no one was aware until the flight landed that we would be using the new terminal.” Referring to the 3km long ‘Jai He’ project, she said, “The artwork looks nice. I have not seen anything similar to it until now.”
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G V Sanjay Reddy, Managing Director, GVK MIAL, arrived at the departure terminal briefly to interact with passengers. “The first bag for the first flight reached the baggage arrival carousel in six minutes, which is good. The arrival and departure of the first flights went off smoothly. The real test will be at night during peak hours. There were some minor IT glitches, which were taken care of. We will address problems as and when they occur,” he said.
Yayya Alshami, who arrived from Yemen via Emirates flight 506, said, “India should be proud of the terminal. Not just the building, but the services inside were very good. Immigration process was done quickly.” Alshami said he had seen the terminal when it was under construction last year and was happy to see the way it has shaped up. Alshami was seen recording the entire welcome procedure.
Commenting on the multi-level parking complex, Utkarsh Muzumdar (25), a Mumbai-based advocate said, said, “It is more convenient than the one at the old terminal. The terminal looks grand from outside. The Sahar elevated road is also useful and has helped in avoiding traffic.”
However, A L Quadros, President, Mumbai Taximen’s Union, expressed dissatisfaction about the pre-paid taxi booth inside the terminal. “The booth has been placed at the centre while the booths for the pre-paid fleet taxis have been put along the exit gate. We are unhappy with the placement as passengers are heading only towards the fleet taxis.”
No Autos on Sahar Elevated Road
While all passengers heading to the new international terminal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport will now be able to use the Sahar elevated road, which enables vehicles to get to the airport from the Western Express Highway, those taking autorickshaws will not be permitted to use this freeway.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan inaugurated the elevated road on Wednesday morning before T2 started operations.
UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner at MMRDA, said the 2.2-km road will be open for all four-wheelers, except trucks and buses. “Two-wheelers and three-wheelers will not be permitted on the road. The basic facility is for international passengers,” said Madan.
The road, as of now, is also not accessible for public transport buses. However, Madan said the authorities will take a call on whether to permit BEST buses on the road.