Air travel in India

Last week , I landed in Kolkata, my hometown and was pleasantly surprised to see that a gleaming new terminal building has come up and is open to passenger traffic. This was long overdue since the existing terminal building was build in the 1980’s and hence was a bit long on the tooth.

 The gleaming steel and glass building, reminded me of the modern airport in Delhi, Hyderabad or some of the international location. While the passenger amenities and facilities were very good, the airport felt like a place without a soul or character. I could have been sitting anywhere in the world. There was very little to signify or characterize the airport with any theme.

 Pondering over the subject, I rationalized that all infrastructure development go through hierarchical levels of development. At the bottom of the pyramid are airports which make travel an unpleasant experience (most airports in India fell into this category  a decade back). At the next level, we had airports which were barely passable in terms of amenities and facilities. A step further up, we now have some of these modern airports like T3 in Delhi, Hyderabad and now Kolkata (and a few more) which are comparable in facilities to global standards.


Hopefully, when  we start building our next generation of airports, we would build them differently. They would be airports with character and themes, where passengers can look forward to their air travels.

 Or air travel will become so cheap and commoditised that they will become only more efficient and effective, and not go up the value chain.

 Since I am  no Nostradamus, will have to wait for a few years to see what happens next…..

One thought on “Air travel in India

  1. Standardisation of facilities, to meet global expectations, may be a good thing. However, I am not sure why every airport terminal now needs to be all glass and chrome, shaped like some futuristic bubble. It looks like, much like the passengers who all seem to choose similar baggages and get excited whenever a new bag appears on the luggage console,, airport architects have become intellectually and artistically extremely lazy, and are reading from the same page. The layout, flooring, color schemes, art/(or what passes for art)….. you name it – it seems similar, taking out the excitement of arriving in a new place, often associated with strange and new sounds, sights and smells. Most of the passengers are similarly dressed, either veering towards garish colors or the other extreme, the staid. You can buy pretty much the same things, with a wee bit of space and energy devoted to localisation (like Karachi biscuits in Hyderabad). For the most part, go to FabIndia stores in the airports and buy “native stuff” that could be, and probably has been made in some mass production center. Yet, the things that ought to be standardised – such as protocols, taxes, signs, taxi rates, forms, rules/procedures – they are all now subject to more complexity. Mediocre, is my charitable assessment.

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