Friday, September 25

New facility to decongest Kolkata airport, reduce travel time

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A new passenger facility at Kolkata airport that was planned to improve travel experience in the pre-Covid era has inadvertently acquired a new dimension in the post-Covid scenario with the airport operator realizing that it will be crucial in enhancing safety in the terminal building.

“The transfer facility for domestic transit passengers that is almost ready will considerably reduce congestion and touch points in the terminal’s arrival and departure lounges,” airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee said.

When the Rs 6.5-crore project was initially planned a couple of years ago, the objective was to substantially reduce time for transiting passengers to complete security check formalities before they are ready to board the next flight.

Domestic transfer will allow transit passengers to bypass the cumbersome process of exiting and re-entering the terminal building after clearing security at the gate. That will save up to three-fourth of the time currently required.

“After domestic-to-domestic transfer is introduced, passengers can take elevators located next to baggage claim belt no.1 in the arrival hall and move into the upper level for security check directly. Against 50-60 minutes that passengers require now to complete the formalities, they will take 10-15 minutes,” an airport official explained.

Commissioning the facility had dropped off the priority list after the pandemic struck as passenger figures dwindled. While around 35%-40% of traffic that Kolkata airport handles comprise transit passengers, the number of flyers arriving at the airport daily crashed from 35,000 in the pre-Covid period to 5,000 now. The resultant decline in transit passenger count was from 14,000-15,000 a day to only 1,700-1,800.

But with health experts warning that the pandemic is here to stay and flight operations being gradually scaled up, Kolkata airport officials have realized that making airports efficient and congestion-free will be key to instilling passenger confidence and making transit through the airport safer. Hence, the renewed focus on the transit facility.

For the new security check area in domestic transfer, 18 CISF personnel will be deployed in addition to those doing duty at the three security hold areas that are in operation at present.

The facility will help only passengers booked on the same airline for flights arriving as well as departing Kolkata. Those booked in different airlines for the two legs will have to collect their bag at the arrival hall and proceed to departure level for completion of check-in/security formalities. The time required for such passengers is around 80 minutes.

Source: Times of India

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