The city airport has installed an ultra-violet luggage sanitization tunnel in one of the 10 arrival belts in the domestic wing. In the other nine belts and the ones in the international wing, sanitization of luggage is carried out manually.
The 20-ft tunnel has a capacity to disinfect 1,000 bags per hour. While manual sanitization involves spraying of chemicals, the tunnel uses UV light to destroy the virus. The cost of the tunnel that has been installed at the airport is Rs 7 lakh.
According to airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee, more such tunnels would be installed at the airport. “We are currently sanitizing all bags that depart or arrive at the airport. But these are being done manually. The introduction of the tunnels will reduce dependence on manpower,” he said.
The tunnel system is similar to X-ray machines used for passenger luggage checks at airports. Only, instead of probing what’s inside the bag, it disinfects the external surface by destroying fomites.
Airport officials said that airline staff as well as CISF personnel had time and again raised concerns over having to touch passenger baggage. “All airline staff and CISF personnel wear gloves and masks all the time and also sanitize their hands every now and then. However, even then an amount of apprehension remains and these tunnels is an effort to make the work ambiance safer for the personnel working at the airport,” said another official.
Additionally, handheld disinfection torches will continue to be in use at the airport, disinfecting passenger baggage while entering the airport as well as disinfecting cabin baggage and other contents. To up the sanitization meter, the airport has further placed shoe sanitizer mats at strategic places. The mats are soaked with a chemical that disinfects passengers’ shoes as one steps on the same.
To ensure contactless usage, foot-operated sanitizer dispensers, sensor-based taps in passenger washrooms and sensor-based drinking water machines have also been installed at the airport.