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Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has asked various airport operators to take necessary steps to curb congestion during the upcoming festive season and winter peak travel, officials familiar with the development said on Sunday.
Scindia has also held a meeting with all stakeholders in this regard; however, civil aviation ministry officials pointed out that the primary focus of the meeting was to augment capacity of major airports in the country.
“The meeting held on Wednesday focused on capacity augmentation of six major airports,” one of the officials present in the meeting said, requesting anonymity. “Ten other airports have also been identified that need increased capacity.”
The official listed out the six major airports as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata while the 10 other airports identified in the meeting were Goa (Dabolim), Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Patna, Jaipur, Guwahati, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum and Cochin.
“Presentations on 16 airports were made wherein capacity assessment in these airports along with the suggested mitigation measures were proposed. These are aimed at capacity augmentation to meet the challenges of growth in passenger traffic,” a second official said, also declining to be named.
The direction from the Union minister ahead of the festive season comes as a learning from last winter, when the Delhi and Mumbai airports reported massive challenges in passenger handling in December 2022, resulting in several passengers even missing their flights.
The airport operators, officials said, have been asked to use CTX (explosive-detection device) machines for a seamless security check without having to take the trouble of getting all electronic gadgets and liquid items out of the luggage.
In order to mitigate bunching, various airport operators have been assigned individual tasks, the officials added.
“The operator of the Bangalore airport, along with the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), has been asked to preferably add more immigration counters. Mumbai airport has been asked to add capacity in security checkpoints and immigration counters, while Delhi, Chennai and Guwahati airports have been asked to finalise the plan of immigration with the help of BOI,” the second official said. “Along with this, DIAL [Delhi International Airport Ltd.] has been asked to finalise capacity augmentation for international, special category passengers.”
According to the latest Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data, during the period between January and August this year, the number of domestic fliers stood at 100.6 million as against around 77 million during the corresponding period last year, registering an annual growth of 30.55%.
Meanwhile, online travel agencies (OTAs) exuded confidence of registering significant uptick in the number of fliers during the upcoming festive season.
“In the upcoming festive season, we expect that the domestic passenger footfall will cross the pre-Covid numbers,” Ayyappan R, chief executive officer (CEO) of Cleartrip, said.
The daily domestic passenger footfall is expected to be around 4.6 lakh (460,000) per day, Ayyappan said, adding he would not be surprised if the count touched 4.8 lakh a day.
“We have seen a 90% recovery in the international travel and a 100% recovery for domestic travel. In comparison to 2022, this year we are witnessing a 29% uptick in segments and a 17% uptick in airfares for Diwali,” Gaurav Patwari, VP – Air Category, Cleartrip, said.
I am a principal correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. I track the aviation and railways ministry. I also write on travel trends. I cover the beats at the national level for the newspaper. Before being in Delhi, I have worked as a journalist in Mumbai as well. My hobbies include trekking and travelling.
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