The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on Tuesday said check-in counters left unmanned by airlines were leading to congestion at major airports in the country.
“Airlines are therefore advised to deploy sufficient manpower at all check-in/baggage drop counters well in advance to ensure decongestion and smooth flow of passengers at airports,” the MoCA’s said in the letter.
A surge in air travel – airports have seen over 400,000 domestic flyers a day for 10 consecutive days – has strained the infrastructure at the country’s busiest airports such as Delhi and Mumbai and forced the MoCA to order a reduction and shifting of peak-hour flights.
“It has come to the notice of the MoCA that the airline check-in counters at certain airports are found unmanned or inadequately manned during early morning hours leading to congestion at the airports, thereby causing inconvenience to the passengers,” the MoCA’s letter noted.
Airlines are requested to place real-time data on their social media feeds regarding waiting time at respective airports’ entry gates, it added.
The development comes a day after Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia visited the Delhi airport to take stock of the situation and interacted with airport and airline officials to devise ways to ease congestion. A five-point plan was put in place covering all areas — entrance, check-in area, security check, immigration. A reduction and shifting of peak hour flights (5 am to 9 am) from terminal T3 to T2 and T1 was also proposed as a remedy.
A SpiceJet spokesperson told Business Standard that in compliance with the MoCA directive, the carrier “is ensuring there is adequate staff to ensure smooth flow of passengers at all airports”.
IndiGo, Go First, Vistara, Air India, and AirAsia India did not respond to queries sent by Business Standard on the letter.
On Monday night, India’s largest carrier IndiGo told passengers to reach the Delhi airport three-and-a-half hours before domestic departures and carry only one piece of hand baggage for a smooth security check. Vistara asked its passengers to arrive three hours before departure for domestic as well as international flights at the Delhi airport.
On Sunday, domestic airlines flew over 427,000 passengers – the highest since the post-lockdown resumption of flights in May 2020.
On Monday, this number stood at about 418,000 passengers.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has called Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, chief executive officer of Delhi International Airport (DIAL), for a meeting on Thursday.
The committee’s chairman Vijaysai Reddy V told reporters on Tuesday that the panel would take up the issue of congestion at the meeting, according to PTI. GMR Group-led DIAL, which operates and manages the Delhi airport, did not respond to Business Standard’s request for a comment on this matter.
According to various aviation industry executives, while the number of flights handled by major Indian airports remained largely similar over the past one month, the number of passengers had increased by a significant number during the last several days amid the peak season (holidays and weddings).
According to aviation analytics company Cirium, the Delhi airport was scheduled to handle a total 1,171 flights on Tuesday. A month back, the Delhi airport handled 1,169 flights on November 13. The Mumbai airport was scheduled to handle 825 flights on Tuesday, compared with just 20 fewer flights a month ago.
Cirium’s data showed that the Bengaluru airport handled 612 flights on Tuesday, compared with 605 flights a month ago.