Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia calls for steps to decongest airports

As airports across the country report congestion and long queues amid a surge in passenger traffic, aviation minister Jyotiraditya has asked the government and private airport operators to work on decongesting these airports to mitigate passenger inconvenience.

“The airports have been asked to look at three main issues – infrastructure, workforce and flight timings – to ensure that flights are not bunched together, causing a delay at security and other areas inside the terminal. Airports need to come up with solutions for these,” said a senior government official, who did not wish to be identified.

The official said the matter is being monitored by Scindia, who has formed a team of senior officers to solve the congestion issue.

The government has prepared a list of 15 airports, including those in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and regional airports under the UDAN scheme like the one in Darbhanga, said government officials.

Suggestions that are being discussed include a change in flight timings to avoid bunching of flights and keeping airports, which do not operate round the clock, open for a longer duration.

“There are certain airports that have watch hours – operate only for a certain duration of time during the day – and suggestions are to keep the airport open for a longer duration if required,” said one of the officials, who did not wish to be identified.

Passengers at airports in India have been consistently increasing since the start of the festive season and got a boost after the current minister Scindia waived the restriction on the number of domestic flights that was imposed after the Covid-19 outbreak.

Before the pandemic impacted travel, Indian airlines carried a peak of about 420,000 domestic passengers a day, and passenger numbers have recovered to about 400,000 passengers a day. On Saturday, airlines carried about 389,000 domestic passengers.

However, airline and airport executives say that decongestion is easier said than done, as airports are operating under Covid-19 protocol, which tends to impact efficiency. “There are social distancing norms to be followed at airports, and those norms need to stay. Unless we relax that a little, which is unlikely, some congestion will be there. Also, congestion is not at all times of the day but at certain hours that are peak hours,” said an executive.

Another executive said the idea of changing flight timings is not a good idea.


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