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…..