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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Delhi Airport Congestion: Airports likely to remain congested till Jan first week

Passenger inconvenience at the country’s key airports is likely to subside in the first week of January after the holiday season ends, as the record number of air passengers in the last ten days was one of the key contributors to the congestion.

The country’s domestic daily passenger numbers have been over 4,00,000 in the past ten days and peaked at over 4,28,000 on December 11 – not just the highest post-Covid passenger count, but the highest in India.

The previous high was 4,20,000 passengers, which the country witnessed before Covid affected air travel in March 2020. For the first time this year, daily domestic passenger numbers consistently crossed 4,00,000, however, the number of flyers remained in the range of 3,50,000 to 3,75,000 for most days this year.

The inability of airports, airlines, and government agencies at the airport to meet the growing demand has been blamed for the chaos at boarding gates, airline check-in counters, and security gates, leading to complaints of several missing passengers. their flights.

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“The situation would ease with various initiatives announced after Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia’s visit to Delhi airport, but it is likely to normalize once the number of holiday travelers reduces, by the first week of January,” a government official said. He added that the aviation ministry is monitoring the situation.

Other officials added scheduled airlines are allowed to operate 3,200 flights per day, but airlines operate over 2,800 flights. Passenger numbers have increased, resulting in flights flying close to full – with many airlines reporting record loads (percentage of seats occupied on flights).

Fewer flights lead to a situation where more passengers will have to be accommodated. To put things into context, pre-Covid 4 airlines carried 20,000 passengers on around 3,000 flights a day – this meant distributing passengers at different times of the day.

“The situation regarding the number of flights will also be simplified when airlines get their planes back after being grounded due to engine unavailability. The number of flights is expected to increase,” the official said. IndiGo and GoFirst were among those unable to operate all their aircraft due to the non-availability of engines.

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On Monday, Scindia consulted with airports, airlines, and agencies and announced a series of measures, including reducing the number of peak flights, reallocating flights to other terminals, and increasing the number of automated bin-searching systems as well as X-ray machines. at airports.

The government issued an order on Tuesday asking airlines to ensure their counters at airports are manned at all times.

“The Ministry of Civil Aviation has found that airline check-in counters at some airports are unstaffed or understaffed in the early hours of the morning, leading to congestion. Scheduled airlines are therefore advised to deploy sufficient manpower well in advance at all check-in and baggage drop counters to ensure decongestion and smooth flow of passengers at the airports,” Tuesday’s order said.

“In addition to the above, the airlines are requested to post real-time data on their social media regarding the waiting time at the entry gates of the respective airports,” the order said.

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Airline sources say airline counters are not the main cause of delays and the long-term solution to the problem would be to introduce reforms to standard operating procedures that are used at security gates.

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