Civil Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia today said the winter rush of passengers at the Delhi airport was “unexpected” and efforts have been made to clear the bottlenecks that had led to the massive congestion and chaos over the last two days. Still, it would take seven to ten days for the situation to normalize, he added.
Yesterday, several airlines had asked passengers to reach three to four hours ahead of flight time. Indigo asked its passengers to come at least 3.5 hours prior for domestic departures and carry only one piece of hand baggage for a smooth security check. Air India asked international passengers to arrive four hours earlier.
“No one had anticipated such a rush for the winter festival vacations. Between the demand of passengers wanting to travel and the supply by airlines sits the airport, which have to provide a seamless and efficient service. It is the airport operator’s responsibility to provide that service. I held a meeting with all the airport operators about this,” Mr Scindia told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
The bottlenecks, he said, started at the entry gates and reached till the security checkpoints. For this, he has suggested some emergency measures, including setting up CCTV cameras at the gates and a central control, which would direct passengers to the gates with the least rush.
“If there is a 20-minute wait time at gate number 6 and only a 2-minute wait at gate number 11, then immediately it must be switched. That must also be put up on a display screen. That is something that is being done now after my discussion with the airport operator,” Mr Scindia said.
The number of security checkpoints inside the airport will be increased from 11 to 20. As of today, there are 17 points. “We have also removed all unnecessary barricades,” he said.
“Things will improve in the next 7-10 days as these new measures are also implemented fully. We need to do this in coordination with all airlines too and hence the implementation will take few days,” he added.
The airports at Mumbai and Bengaluru have also been given the same instructions and are “mirroring operational amendments in tune with the Delhi airport – which is the country’s busiest”, the minister added.
The Delhi airport sees about 0-8o million footfalls on an average and 100 million with T1 being in operations. “By 2024-25, we will have the Noida Airport phase-1 opened for 12 million flyers,” the minister said.