Festive Season: Civil Aviation Ministry Takes Steps To Ensure Smooth Flow Of Passengers During Rush Hour At Airports

Arun Kumar Das

Dec 15, 2023, 02:11 PM | Updated 02:14 PM IST

Passengers at Mumbai International Airport (File Photo) (Representative Image)
Passengers at Mumbai International Airport (File Photo) (Representative Image)

Ahead of the upcoming festive season, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has directed the concerned authorities to take concrete action after reviewing the airport congestion issue.

According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), a series of initiatives have been undertaken to ensure a smooth flow of air passengers at airports so that they can avail the scheduled flights without any hassles.

Efforts are on with collaboration with all the stakeholders including airport operators, BCAS, MHA, CISF, and Immigration to create additional space by restructuring the available terminal infrastructure to release more space and augment capacity at several passenger touch points for airport operators to be in readiness to handle more passengers comfortably, thereby reducing congestion.

MoCA and its agencies are almost daily monitoring the efforts made by airport operators, airlines, and other stakeholders to ensure that the mitigation measures that are in place are duly complied with and the ultimate airport user, the passenger(s) gets the best travel experience.

The issue of congestion at major airports was witnessed during last year festive season/winter 2022, which was a cause for concern, as it took longer waiting times for passenger processing at various touch points such as entry gates, the terminal building, check-in counters of airlines, pre-embarkation security check, immigration, emigration and waiting space at the security hold area.

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia took immediate stock of the situation and personally visited the Delhi Airport along with senior officials of MoCA in December 2022 to inspect the arrangements, where he directed the necessary augmentation of infrastructure.

Simultaneously, other major Airport Operators like Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Chennai were also directed to identify bottlenecks in passenger processing and augment their capacities to meet the growing passenger demands so that such congestion scenario does not recur in the upcoming festive season and during peak time.

Subsequently, on the directions of the civil aviation minister, 10 more airports - Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Goa, Patna, Jaipur, Guwahati, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum, and Cochin were identified - where the airport operators were sensitised to take proactive measures to avoid congestion in the upcoming festive season by augmenting capacities, wherever required.

The causes of congestion were profiled and it was observed that broad causative factors were lack of sufficient airport infrastructure, inadequate X-ray screening machines, bunching of flights particularly at peak hours, and inadequate CISF and Bureau of Immigration manpower to meet the requirement.

Mitigation measures to tackle congestion at major airports:

To remove these bottlenecks and improve the infrastructure availability, several measures have been taken which include making space for accommodating more passenger infrastructure facilities there and additional entry gates have been opened.

Waiting time screens have been installed at entry and police check post points to apprise passengers about the waiting time.

Airport Operators also installed 2D bar code scanners at entry gates to facilitate automated entry and airlines advised to ensure bar code on tickets issued to passengers so that the same can be readable by bar code scanners to facilitate smooth entry of passengers.

Support manpower has been deployed to assist passengers and additional space at airports for passenger related activities created by way of demolition/shifting of offices/lounges/retail outlets including waiting lounge, retail outlets, office spaces have been demolished at Delhi, Mumbai and other airports.

The waiting area has been increased both at entry and at security hold area.

Airport Operators have been advised to install baggage drop facilities as per the availability of the space and airlines have been advised to deploy sufficient manpower at all check-in/baggage drop counters.

The number of X- ray machines have been significantly increased at pre-embarkation security points.

Use of social media platforms to provide real-time updates to passengers in order to make airport transit seamless.

Digi Yatra has been launched in a phased manner at airports for a seamless travel experience.

Monitoring daily at the level of airport operators, airlines, and the Ministry of Civil Aviation to ensure compliance with mitigation measures.

All these measures are implemented with the utmost consideration for maintaining airport security.

The Ministry of Home Affairs/Bureau of Immigration has been approached to ensure 100 per cent manning of the immigration counters. MHA and CISF have also been actively persuaded to increase the CISF deployment to man the sanctioned strength at the respective airports through capacity addition.

Airport operators have already been asked to augment the immigration/emigration counters and also security machines. Simultaneously, BoI and CISF have been requested to augment their manpower to man these enhanced infrastructures.

Union Minister has regularly throughout this year, been reviewing the mitigation measures for avoiding congestion at airports and is also monitoring every week the progress of critical infrastructure under-development at the major airports.

Use of Digi Yatra: It is a project conceived to achieve contactless, seamless processing of passengers at Airports based on Facial Recognition Technology (FRT).

The project envisages that any traveler may pass through various checkpoints at the airport through a paperless and contactless processing using facial features to establish identity. Digi Yatra app is available on both android and iOS platforms with the help of which passengers can enroll on the platform from the comfort of their home.

So far, over 35 lakh users have downloaded the Digi Yatra app. Presently, Digi Yatra has been rolled out at 13 airports across the country including Delhi, Bengaluru, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Vijayawada, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Cochin, Guwahati, Jaipur, and Lucknow.

Since its launch, more than 91 lakh passengers have availed the facility of Digi Yatra to travel through the airports.

Further, 14 more airports namely Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Dabolim, Mopa Goa, Indore, Bagdogra, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Nagpur, Patna, Raipur, Srinagar and Vishakhapatnam will be covered with Digi Yatra during 2024.

Eventually, all the airports will be covered with Digi Yatra in a phased manner.

With the introduction of the fourth runway and Eastern Cross Taxiway and soon-to-be-completed state-of-art T1 terminal building at Delhi Airport, the commissioning of a new T2 terminal with domestic and international operations at Bangalore Airport, expanded terminal building at Hyderabad Airport, restructuring of the pre-embarkation security check area in Mumbai Airport by addition of three more security lanes, soon to be completed new terminal building at Lucknow airport, it is expected that these airports will be able to handle more number of passengers efficiently to ensure comfortable, hassle-free travel by the passengers.

In the near future, new terminal buildings with enhanced capacity are going to be operational at Guwahati and Patna Airports, which will boost the passenger handling capacity at these airports.

Operationalisation of new Greenfield Airports at Noida (Jewar) and Navi Mumbai airports would further complement the capacities of nearby Delhi and Mumbai airports respectively.

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