Airports have to disseminate real-time data on wait-times at various touch points such as airport entry, security gate etc on their social media feed and on sign boards put up in terminal buildings , the government said. Mumbai airport (@CSMIA_Official) started uploading the wait-times onto their twitter feed on Tuesday and so far the time taken at these two touchpoints has been under 5 minutes.
In the meeting, civil aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal along with senior officials from the civil aviation safety and security regulatory bodies took stock of the measures taken at Bengaluru and Mumbai airports for decongestion during peak hours. Airport operators also have to ensure that all airline check-in counters are manned adequately, additional X-ray machines are installed to increase the number of security lanes, rebalance the peak hour flight schedule depending on the availability of security lanes and disseminate all relevant information to passengers, said the civil aviation ministry in a press statement. “The airport operators must install additional capacity and redesign their systems and processes, wherever needed to be in readiness for any peak demand scenario,” the statement said.
For most of this year, India’s daily domestic passenger volume had stayed under 4 lakhs even on weekends, the busiest day for travel. Passenger traffic has been surging since the past few weeks and crossed pre-Covid numbers in early December. Tuesdays are the leanest day for air travel but all the three Tuesdays of December had daily passenger traffic cross 4 lakh. While wait time to clear security at Delhi airport has shot up greatly, at Mumbai no major changes have been registered so far. Mumbai has been in news for its queues outside immigration counters, but immigration and customs are sovereign functions handled directly by the government.
Meanwhile, MIAL listed the measures put in place to handle the festive surge. Among these are the `Passenger Flow and Queue Monitoring System’, a digital tool used by the airport operation team to closely monitor passenger footfalls in the security processing zone. A team is deployed at pre-security check for security restricted articles removal in order to reduce the rejection rates at Automated Tray Retrieval System (ATRS), MIAL said, adding that staff deployed at the end of the ATRS machines ensure quick turnaround for security trays.
The airport said it has deployed personnel at security checkpoints for managing the queues and to prioritize senior citizens and passengers with child in arm; at the immigration hall to guide the passengers to designated counters; at the curbside for proactive passenger assistance, managing queues at the entry gates, at self baggage drop kiosks and check in kiosks to decongest the traditional check in counters. “In the event of sudden passenger surge, passengers are prioritized as per departure timings,” MIAL said.
On December 10, a Saturday, the Mumbai airport handled a record breaking 1.11 lakh domestic passengers in 24 hours, the highest volume of domestic passengers ever handled in its history. It broke the previous single-day record of 1.06 lakh domestic passengers, handled pre-pandemic on 22 December 2017.