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More manpower, X-ray machines in place to curb congestion at airports

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NEW DELHI, Dec 15: To tackle congestion at airports amid rising passenger traffic, Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Friday said manpower, X-ray machines, departure entry gates, check-in and immigration counters have been increased at airports.

Besides, guidelines are in place to ensure adequate allocation of space for passenger-related activities at terminal buildings.

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Overall capacity has been enhanced at 16 airports, including Delhi and Mumbai, compared to December last year.

In December last year, there was heavy congestion at various airports, including Delhi, following which the ministry took various measures to address the problem.

Operators of airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai were directed to identify the bottlenecks in passenger processing and augment their capacities.

Similar directions were also issued to operators of 10 other airports — Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Goa, Patna, Jaipur, Guwahati, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum and Cochin.

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At a briefing in the national capital, Scindia said various measures have been taken to tackle congestion, including that a VIP lounge was demolished at Delhi airport and in that space, X-ray machines were installed.

While the CISF workforce has been increased by 31 per cent to 24,733, the number of XBIS (X-ray Baggage Inspection System) at security checkpoints has gone up 37 per cent to 321 at these airports.

Further, departure entry lanes have increased 46 per cent to 312, while the check-in counters rose 24 per cent to 1,633.

Also, the Bureau of Immigration (BoI) counters at these 16 airports have gone up  24 per cent to 1,002.

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As per the ministry, 1,451 BoI personnel have been deployed at the airports.

The count of passengers at these airports increased 10 per cent to 12.06 million in November compared to the year-ago period, the ministry said.

According to the ministry, space for business establishments and commercial lounges at airports is subject to space availability to meet passenger facility requirements for projected future growth.

Space allocation for commercial activities is to be planned on the principle of ‘to be on the way’ and ‘not in the way’ to ensure smooth flow of passengers, it said.

The lack of sufficient airport infrastructure, inadequate X-ray screening machines, CISF and immigration manpower, and bunching of flights, particularly at peak hours were identified as among the key factors for the congestion last year.

Digi Yatra facility, which is based on facial recognition technology, has been launched at 13 airports, and that has also helped in easing congestion.

The minister has been reviewing the mitigation measures on a weekly basis with the identified airport operators and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to avoid congestion at airports.

Among other measures, Scindia said that expanded terminal building at Hyderabad airport, restructuring of the pre-embarkation security check area in Mumbai airport by the addition of three more security lanes and a soon-to-be-completed new terminal building at Lucknow airport will help these airports to handle more passengers efficiently.

Amid concerns in certain quarters that airfares are high, Scindia said the tariff monitoring unit at the DGCA monitors the fares on 60 routes in different buckets.

In June, it was high season for air travel, and also one airline stopped operations, which was a double whammy. Some of the routes operated by the grounded airline were given to other carriers and in around two weeks, the airfare situation stabilised, the minister said.

No-frills carrier Go First stopped flying in early May due to financial woes, mainly triggered by Pratt & Whitney engine issues.

A comparison of one-day fares during June 5-6 and December 14-15 shows there has been a fall in airfares, Scindia said and added that the ticket prices have fallen 20-80 per cent.

“Airfares are under control,” he noted.

India is one of the fastest-growing civil aviation markets in the world and domestic air passenger traffic rose 9 per cent to more than 1.27 crore in November. (PTI)


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