After days of passenger complaints, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is considering actions to reduce traffic at Delhi IGI Airport. In addition to opening new security lanes and adding staff, officials are looking at reducing peak-hour departures as well. With some passengers taking an hour to enter the airport, officials are hoping to ease the congestion as quickly as possible.
Flurry of complaints
As demand surges post-COVID, Delhi Airport is facing the same crises that many European airports saw this summer, with long queues for check-in and security. Since the start of the month, many have taken to Twitter to voice their frustration at the queues, which have forced many to spend three hours or more before reaching airside, resulting in missed flights as well.
On Saturday, senior leaders from MoCA surveyed the situation in Terminal 3 (which serves all international and many domestic flights) to take action. While not confirmed yet, plans are being considered to reduce the peak hour flights from T3 to 14 per hour, 11 per hour in T2, and eight from T1. Peak hours are from 05:00 to 09:00 and 16:00 to 20:00. Currently, T3 processes 19 flights in peak hours.
The reduction in flights is part of a four-point plan, according to The Economic Times. This includes increasing the available X-Ray machines from 14 to 16, and in the long-term opening new entry points at Gate 1A outside T1 and 8B outside T3 (currently serving as reserve lounges).
Chaos from the start
As Delhi Airport scrambles to handle the traffic, passengers are facing issues from the very start of their trip. Long queues have been noted for car entry to Terminals 1 and 3, with a lack of staff available to manage traffic flow. Authorities plan to increase the number of traffic marshals in Terminal 3 to avoid vehicular congestion as well.
From there, all Indian airports require an ID and same-day ticket to enter the terminal, creating another chokepoint for passengers. While queues here are shorter, there are nearly a dozen entry points, so staff is needed to direct passengers to the next area once they get busy. However, the real issues have begun to creep in at security and immigration for international flights.
Passengers have reported security queues of over an hour, even for domestic flights, usually a rare sight. At the worst last week, some took two hours from the terminal entrance to the gate, leading to fury online and calls for better management. Queue cutters and arguments broke out as well, leading to swift action from MoCA to control traffic at the airport. For now, passengers have been advised to arrive at the airport at least 2.5 hours before a domestic flight and 3.5 hours before an international one, especially at peak hours.
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Impact on flights
It’s no coincidence that Delhi Airport’s chaos comes as it hits record traffic levels for the first time on a sustained level. December has seen over 400,000 daily passengers nearly every day, half of whom fly through Delhi. Given the sudden and sustained rush, the airport is clearly struggling to get on top of the situation, but hopefully, the new measures will ease traffic on a short-term basis. However, reducing peak-hour flights could exacerbate another passenger complaint: high fares, especially on trunk routes.
This content was originally published here.