Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport
|Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport
নেতাজি সুভাষচন্দ্র বসু আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দর
Netaji SubhashChôndrô Bôsu Antôrjatik Bimanbôndôr
|IATA: CCU – ICAO: VECC|
|Owner||Airports Authority of India|
|Location||Jessore Road, Dum Dum, Kolkata - 52, West Bengal|
|Elevation AMSL||5 m / 16 ft|
|Statistics (Apr 2015 – Mar 2016)|
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (IATA: CCU, ICAO: VECC) is an international airport located in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, serving the Kolkata metropolitan area. It is located approximately 17 km (11 mi) from the city center. The airport was earlier known as Dum Dum Airport before being renamed after Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a prominent leader of Indian independence movement. Spread over an area of 2,460 acres (1,000 ha), Kolkata airport is the largest in eastern India and one of three international airports operating in West Bengal, the others being in Bagdogra and Durgapur. With more than 10 million passengers in the financial year 2014-15, it is the fifth busiest airport in India in respect of aircraft movement after Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. The Airport is a major centre for flights to North-East India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Southeast Asia. In 2014 & 2015, Kolkata Airport won the titles of Best Improved Airport in the Asia-Pacific region by the Airport Council International.
Kolkata airport traditionally served as a strategic stopover on the air route from Europe to Indochina and Australia. Many pioneering flights passed through the airport, including that of Amelia Earhart in 1937. In 1924, KLM began scheduled stops at Calcutta, as part of their Amsterdam to Batavia (Jakarta) flight The same year, a Royal Air Force aircraft landed in Calcutta as part of the first round-the-world expedition by any air force.
The airport began as an open ground next to the Royal Artillery Armoury in Dum Dum. Sir Stanley Jackson, Governor of Bengal, opened the Bengal Flying Club at Calcutta aerodrome in February 1929. In 1930, the airfield was made fit for use throughout the year, and other airlines began to utilise the airport. Air Orient began scheduled stops as part of a Paris to Saigon route, and Imperial Airways began flights from London to Australia via Calcutta in 1933. This began a trend that drew many airlines to Calcutta airport.
Calcutta played an important role in the Second World War. In 1942, the United States Army Air Forces 7th Bombardment Group flew B-24 Liberator bombers from the airport on combat missions over Burma. The airfield was used as a cargo aerial port for the Air Transport Command, and was also used as a communication center for the Tenth Air Force.
Passenger services grew after the Second World War. Calcutta became a destination for the world’s first jet-powered passenger aircraft, the de Havilland Comet, on a British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) route to London. Furthermore, in 1964 Indian Airlines introduced the first Indian domestic jet service, using Caravelle jets on the Calcutta–Delhi route.
Between the 1940s and 1960s, the airport was served by several major airlines including Aeroflot, Air France, Alitalia, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Philippine Airlines, KLM, Pan Am, Lufthansa, Swissair and SAS.
Due to the introduction of longer haul aircraft and the poor political climate of Calcutta during the 1960s, several airlines discontinued their service to the airport. The 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War saw a large increase of both refugees and disease in Calcutta, causing more airlines to cease services to the city. In 1975, the airport opened the first dedicated cargo terminal in India.
In the early 1980s, plans emerged to connect the airport with the city center by tram. The proposed route went to the airport from Maniktala, via Vivekananda Road, Ultadanga and Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue. The line partly completed 1985, but further expansion to the airport was cancelled due to the financial downing of Calcutta Tramways Company. The extension proposal re-appeared in 1999, but was cancelled.
The 1990s saw new growth for Calcutta airport, as the Indian aviation industry saw the arrival of new airlines such as Jet Airways and Air Sahara. A new domestic terminal was opened in 1995, and the airport was renamed in honour of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. In 2000, a new international arrival hall was opened.
2005 saw the growth of Low Cost Carriers in the Indian aviation sector, with new airlines including SpiceJet, IndiGo and Kingfisher Airlines. This led to a dramatic rise in passenger numbers at the airport. Overcrowding in both terminals led to the implementation of a comprehensive modernisation plan for the airport.
Work included an expansion of runway 01L/19R, rapid-exit taxiways and parking bays. The runway was extended by 400 m (1,300 ft) on the northern side and 1000 ft on the southern side, and was fitted with CAT-I facilities for night use. A 119-year-old mosque that lies 30 meters from the runway' northern end prohibits further expansion in this direction. The longer runway, 01R/19L, was upgraded from CAT-I to CAT-II ILS status to allow landings in poor visibility. In August 2014, it was announced that the instrument landing system of the primary runway would be upgraded to CAT-IIIb. This allows flights to operate till visibility drops below 50 metres. The secondary runway would be upgraded to CAT-II. The ₹120 crore upgradation work would start from February 2015 and would be completed by the end of 2015.
The modernization plan included some improvements of the airport's existing terminals, including the addition of extra ticketing counters, check-in kiosks and cafes to the domestic terminal in 2009. However, the need to replace the airport's terminals entirely led to plans for a new integrated terminal to serve both international and domestic destinations. A Thai-based company, the Italian-Thai Development (ITD) Corporation (ITD-ITDCem JV, a consortium of ITD and ITD Cementation) and the 125 years old iconic Project Management Consultant - Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) was hired with Delhi-based designer Sikka Associates to construct the building. Construction commenced in November 2008, and the terminal was inaugurated on 20 January 2013 after overshooting the previous deadlines of July 2011 and August 2012. The former airport hotel 'Ashok' was demolished to give way to two new five-star luxury hotels and a shopping mall in its place. Future modernisation plans include the construction of an 86-meter high Air Traffic Control Tower.
Commercial operations were intended to start on 23 January 2013, the 116th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. However, the shift to the new terminal was only completed on 16 March.
The airport's new integrated terminal is spread over 233,000 m2 (2,510,000 sq ft) and is able to handle 25 million passengers annually, compared to the previous terminals' capacity of five million. The terminal is an L-shaped structure, containing six levels. It contains 128 check-in counters that utilise CUTE (Common User Terminal Equipment) technology, and has 78 immigration counters and twelve customs counters. Passenger lounges are provided by Air India and Jet Airways. The terminal is equipped with 18 aerobridges. and a further 57 remote parking bays. There are plans to construct an 18-foot bronze statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the integrated terminal complex.
Kolkata's old international and domestic terminals closed when the integrated terminal opened. However, the old international terminal may be used for future hajj services, and the domestic terminal may be used by regional airlines. An earlier proposal of continuing low-cost carrier operations from the existing domestic terminal has been shelved due to the need to fully utilise the new integrated terminal's capacity.
In the financial year from April 2011 to March 2012, Kolkata airport served 10.3 million passengers, 85% which were travelling domestically. The withdrawal of Lufthansa's service to Frankfurt in March 2012 left Kolkata with no direct connections beyond Asia. However, other international operations increased in 2012. The new terminal has attracted some airlines to expand their route networks to include Kolkata.
In September 2012, the Airports Authority of India upgraded the airport's cargo-handling capacity, enabling it to cater for the demand until 2015–16. There has been a 25 per cent growth in international cargo movement to and from Kolkata airport and a 15 per cent increase in outward transit. Automobile parts accounted for the bulk of the growth in the movement of cargo from the city to other countries. In November 2008 the first Centre for Perishable Cargo (CPC) in West Bengal was opened at the airport. The CPC has an area of 742.5 m2 (7,992 sq ft) and an annual storage capacity of 12,000 million tonnes. The CPC had been undergoing trials that started in June 2008 and was built with a ₹67.5 million (US$1.0 million) grant-in-aid from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) part of the Commerce Ministry. The volume of export was 21,683 ton in 2008–09, during the current fiscal more than 23,042 ton of cargo were handled by the airport authorities. Similarly the volume of import cargo was increased from 16,863 ton to 18,733 ton recording more than ten per cent jump during the same period. However, in 2008–09 the total volume of cargo handled by the airport declined by 4.8% from the previous year.
The construction of the new terminal, as well as runway expansion marked the end of Phase I in the project. AAI officials have announced that they are prepared to execute Phase 2 of the Kolkata Airport expansion plan. This primarily involves around the construction of an 86-meter ATC Tower to provide controllers with a better view of the planes at the new terminal. The building will be accompanied by a sprawling 4-storey office complex.
Additionally, the current Kolkata Metro expansion plans include two new lines to the airport, one from Noapara connecting at Barasat, and the other from New Garia. Both lines will converge at the airport and form an underground station.
Airlines and destinations
Kolkata's airport is currently being upgraded in light of the booming air traffic in the Indian aviation.
1915-20: A grass strip airport started on an extended area of Dum Dum cantonment with only east-west runway. Today it has been abandoned and one can see this runway on Google Maps as taxiway starting from main runway on the south side near 01R. It was extensively used by mail aircraft and Royal Air Force. KLM used to use it for refueling stop for its Indonesia flight. Tagore took this flight for his trip to Iran and Iraq.
1940-42: Second world war started and Imperial Japanese Army occupied Burma. A new runway was built which is today’s secondary runway ( 19R-01L, about 8000 ft).This runway was extensively used for launching B17 bombers to Burma front.
1943-46: Japanese Army over ran allied positions in Burma and infiltrated Nagaland and Manipur. Singapore was over ran by Japanese Navy. Allied commander Lord Mountbatten decided to fortify Dum Dum airport. A parallel runway further east was built which became today’s main runway ( 19L-01R, about 10,000 ft). No intersecting runway was ever thought of because both runways could be knocked off by bombing at the point of intersection. These two runways launched steady stream of B17 and B24 bombers to Burma front. For about 2–3 years DumDum airport became Asia’s busiest airport. The airport itself was guarded by a US marine division based at nearby Birati camp. Still today there are retired US air force personnel with fond memories of DumDum airport.
1950s: After independence the airport continued to be s major entry port to India and a major refueling stop in world map. BOAC, KLM, Pan Am, Lufthansa, Air France, Swiss Air, TWA and many more used to fly out of the airport while only Air India had little activity here.
1962 and Chinese war: The invasion of NEFA ( Arunachal Pradesh ) by Chinese Army put Kolkata airport into forefront of defense related activity. A lot of supplies were airlifted from the airport to frontline positions. Main runway was extended to today’s length of 12,000 ft and turning pads were added at both end. This runway could now handle the largest aircraft's like C-5 Galaxy and Antonov's. Decision was taken to build a new terminal at the airport.
1971 and Bangladesh War: The airport again came back to headline at the start of Bangladesh war. Two para brigades were launched from the airport inside East Pakistan and Indian Air Force heroically defended airspace over Kolkata from the airport. Captured Pakistani generals and diplomatic staffs were evacuated via this airport. However airspace over Kolkata was closed to international traffic for some time, the airport was heavily defended by SAM 2 and SAM 3 missiles and AAG. At this time current international terminal started to function and one could see the apron area from inside.
1972-77: A decision was made to downgrade CCU to a domestic airport only. International flights were scares, Boeing 747 pressed into service eliminating the need to refuel. However three upstart airlines in the east namely Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines and Biman Bangladesh started to use the airport besides BA and Aeroflot and this generated some international traffic load. Airport International Hotel was also opened was a stopover point for transit passengers. Some improvements in taxiway and ATC system also took place.
1979: Sino-Vietnam war broke out and Soviet Union started supplying goods to Vietnam with the help of this airport. American spy satellite took a picture of huge Antonov 22 taking off from 19L was published in The New York Times and for the first times Indians had an idea about CCU airport runway looked well before goggle map.
1987: Ex pilot Rajiv Gandhi had a soft corner about CCU and he took personal initiative to fund for the former domestic terminal at a cost of $15.0 million. Royal Jordanian Airlines and Yugoslavia Air started biweekly flights to Calcutta.
1995-96: The airport was renamed as Netaji Subash Chandra Bose in the honour of Subhas Chandra Bose, a prominent leader of Indian independence movement and his statue was installed at the terminal. Air bridge operation started and the domestic terminal with 4 million (max) capacity started functioning.
2005-08: Boom time for Indian civil aviation. At last West Bengal chief minister demanded that the airport has to be developed to international standard. This was objected by the Planning Commission. Initially it was decided to build an annex to current international terminal to function as international departure. But AAI suddenly discovered a vast track of land nearby called airport jheel. An integrated terminal was planned to handle 20 million domestic/international people In the mean time the domestic terminal kept handling twice the capacity and old international terminal handling 1 million perople each year.
2012–present: Construction of a huge 40,000 sq. meter terminal has made NSCBI airport as a world class aviation hub in India. This L shaped terminal faces secondary runway in the east and Indian airlines hangar complex on the south side. A total of 14-16 gates are installed. A few are restricted for international operations which is most likely on the south side. The construction of a 1200 car garage and an over bridge, linking the departure terminal with VIP road, are also part of this project. In addition, the apron area on the south side of the airport and the secondary runway have been extended. A new ILS antenna can be seen on the south side of the secondary runway. These additions have made Kolkata airport a perfect parallel runway system. Both runways could be used in near simultaneous mode enhancing its handling capacity. 
Today Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport has two parallel runways,
- 01L/19R, 2,790 m × 46 m (9,154 ft × 151 ft)
- 01R/19L, 3,627 m × 50 m (11,900 ft × 164 ft)
The airport's longer runway, 01R/19L is used for takeoffs and landings, while the shorter one is used mostly as a taxiway and for daytime landings. It is the only airport in Eastern India to have two runways
Accidents and incidents
- 2 May 1953: A BOAC de Havilland Comet bound for Delhi crashed after takeoff from Calcutta airport with the loss of 43 lives, including six British nationals. Parts of the aircraft were found spread over an area of eight square miles, near Jugalgari, a village some 25 miles north-west of Calcutta, suggesting disintegration before impact with the ground.
- 12 June 1968: a Pan-Am Boeing 707-321C struck a tree 1128m short of the runway during a night-time visual approach in rain. The aircraft subsequently crashed and caught fire. The fuselage remained largely intact, although the aircraft's landing gear had broken off. Out of the 10 crew and 53 passengers aboard, 1 crew member and 5 passengers suffered fatal injuries due to the fire.
The airport has a facility of prepaid taxis and air-conditioned buses that connect it to the city. As part of the larger modernisation programme, a flyover at Nagerbazar and an entry ramp on VIP Road have also been constructed. A 2 km flyover from Kestopur to Jora Mandir is being built to speed up the airport bound traffic. These should reduce journey times to the airport. Parking facilities at the new terminal include two underground parking levels accommodating 3000 cars, as well as a carpark in the landscaped outdoor area which can handle an additional 2000 cars.
Kolkata airport is connected to the Kolkata Suburban Railway system. It was the first airport in India to have such a connection, which opened in 2005. The four kilometre long elevated track connects the airport's Biman Bandar station with Dumdum Cantonment, passing Jessore Road. Electric multiple unit rolling stock serve the line. The railway line has seen poor patronage, leading to plans to replace it with a metro system.
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