TECH TALK: Reflections from a Dubai Trip: Dreams in the Air

Take a look at Dubai airport from the air to see how to do it right. (The design is probably not just limited to Dubai but most good airports in the world.) There is a terminals area in the centre away from the check-in and arrivals area. The terminals area thus has plenty of parking space for aircraft on all its sides. Every aircraft thus can be connected to an aerobridge. The terminals area itself is connected to the arrivals / departures area with an underground tunnel. The arrivals area is on the lower level, while the departures area is one level above.

Now take a look at the hodge-podge that is Mumbais airport. In the infinite wisdom of the planners, we built common runways but had two separate terminals for domestic and international travelers which for years were connected only by getting on the crowded roads. A couple years or so ago, wisdom dawned and they finally used the inside roads to ferry passengers back and forth between the two terminals.

The new domestic terminal that has been created for some of the airlines (replacing the old one) forces every traveller to be carted in a bus. There is no provision for any aerobridge. Which era are we willing in? The terminals area and the arrivals / departures area is in one cramped building limiting growth. A significant part of the airport has been overrun by squatters limiting the expansion of runways.

We pay a price every day for these kind of inefficiencies in the system. Many of these decisions could have been done right the first time around and we did not need to be rocket scientists for that. We just had to look at best practices that people have followed before us. But being one of historys oldest civilizations, we think we have all the answers. Luckily, the rest of the world doesnt seem to think so.

Tomorrow: Imagining Chaos

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.