Madurai Airport is one of the steadily growing non metro Indian airport which lies 12 kilometers from Madurai City. This customs airport began commercial operations in 1957.
The areas of Madurai Airport was initially used for Aviation purposes in 1942 as an airfield, (Madurai Airfield) in 1942 by the British Royal Airforce during World War 2. After the end of world war 2 the airport was used by "Hindu" a leading Indian National Newspaper to bring its newspapers printed in Chennai to Madurai.
As demand for civil aviation by the people living in and around Madurai increased, several works were done and the airport was opened as a Civil Airport in 1956. The first aircraft to fly from Madurai Airport was the Fokker- Friendship aircraft. The plane flew from Madurai Airport to Trivandrum Airport and then Madras Airport (now Chennai Airport). Certain developments were done during mid 1970s including strengthening and extending the runway to be able to accomodate heavier and bigger aircraft. The first big plane to use these extended facilities was an Indian airlines B-737. Then in 1980s Indian Airlines launched flights connecting Banglore 4 times a week using HS-748 Avro Aircraft. Later Vayudoot a regional air carrier operated flights connecting Madurai with Coimbatore Airport, Trichy Airport and Madras Airport.
Flights connecting Madurai Airport with Trivandruam Airport and Bombay Airport were launched in 1991/92 by the now defunct East-West Airlines. This flight service was stopped following the ceasing of operations of EW airlines. After this flights connecting Madurai Airport to Bombay Airport and Coimbatore Airport were launched by Indian Airlines. Flights connecting Madurai Airport to Madras and Trichy Airports were launched and later discontinued by Indian Airlines. Indian Airlines then stopped all routes to Madurai keeping a route Madurai and Madras only live. Meanwhile NEPC airlines launched twice daily flight services between Madurai and Madras Airports. The evening NEPC flight was then altered to Madurai - Trichy - Madras and vice versa. Indian Airlines then replaced the current flights with the Madurai - Madras - Bombay Route. Later Jet Airways began operations in Madurai launching a non stop flight connecting Madurai and Bombay and then replacing it with Madurai to Madras flight twice a day.
Air Deccan a then newly formed budget airlines launched a flight service connecting Madurai Airport and Banglore Airport. The Madurai-Banglore flight service was continued even after Air Deccan was acquired by Vijay Mallya's King Fisher Air Lines. Vijay Mallya's King Fisher red started a twice daily flight service connecting Madras Airport and Madurai Airport.
In the year 2005 Paramount Airways came as an aggressive player having Madurai Airport as one of its major hubs. But it did not last long and its operations were shut down due to legal disputes. Later as aircraft carriers were struggling under a global recession, King Fisher Red also stopped its operations from Maduraiz. Then in the year 2010 spicejet started a daily service from Madurai Airport to Madras Airport to Delhi Airport and Vice Versa and another service from Madurai Airport to Madras Airport to Mumbai Airport and Vice Versa. As demand for the two services were good, spicejet later stated another daily service connecting Madurai Airport with Hyderabad Airport. Seeing the demand for flights to Metros from Madurai, Jet Airways launched a flight service connecting Madurai and Banglore Five Times a week. From then on several flights are available to the people of Madurai connecting to Major destinations in the world.
Madurai Airport was on list of the 35 non Metro airports selected for modernization by Airport Authority of India. Later this airport was modernized and notification giving it the status of customs airport was issued in December 31, 2011. The status of customs airport was given from January 1, 2012. The first time International aircrafts landed in Madurai Airport was on August 25, 2012 when 2 Malaysian charted flights landed in Madurai Airport. Later on September 20, 2012 regular international flight services were started from Madurai Airport to Colombo Airport. Flights connecting Dubai were later launched by Spicejet on November 22, 2013. The Department of Revenue which functions under the Finance Ministry has issued a notice permitting cargo handling in the Madurai Airport.
Currently Mihin Lanka, Jet Airways and Spicejet are the aircraft carriers operating from Madurai Airport.
There are two terminals present in the Madurai Airport which are Integrated terminal or passenger terminal which handles domestic and international passenger flights and a cargo terminal which handles cargo movement. The integrated terminal used by passengers was built at a cost of Rs. 129 crores and opened on September 12, 2010. This terminal spreads over an area of 17,560 square meters and can handle 250 passengers at a time. The facilities available in the integrated terminal are 5 customs counters, 12 immigration counters, 16 check in counters, 16 Check in counters, 105 CISF personnel, 3 conveyor belts and 7 aircraft stands. The terminal also boasts of a VIP lounge and a Commercial Important Persons lounge.AAI is managing the VIP lounge and TNCC Madurai is managing the CIP lounge.
After the notification by the Union Finance Ministry permitting cargo handling at Madurai Airport, modernisation works were started at the old cargo terminal and have been completed in the beginning of 2015. Final touches are being done and inauguration of the Cargo terminal is awaited. The facilities available in the cargo terminal are weighing machines, X-Ray scanners, forklifts, conveyer belts. Officials at the airports inform that about 50 tons of cargo can be handled a month with the current facilities.
The present Main runway in the Madurai Airport measures 7,497 ft × 148 ft or 2,285 meters × 45 meters. Efforts are being taken to increase the length of the runway to 12500 feet and to increase its breadth proportionately as it would enable bigger international flights to use the Madurai Airport.
Madurai Airport is located at 9°50'20.9"N 78°05'24.0"E or 9.839133, 78.090011.