The Adani Group-owned Mumbai airport on Friday witnessed chaotic scenes due to heavy passenger rush amid the festive season, forcing the private operator to prepone resumption of flight services from the domestic terminal (T1).
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) will resume operations from T-1 from October 13 instead of October 20-mid night, announced earlier, the private airport operator said in a statement late evening.
On Friday morning, many people took to social media to mention about the chaos and also shared pictures and videos of the scenes at the airport, while airlines advised passengers to report early to allow sufficient times for security check.
As of now, the CSMIA is operating all services—domestic and international- from T2, which is largely used for overseas flights.
"This morning, a surge in traffic due to the festive season resulted in delays in passenger processing at CSMIA. These delays were compounded due to intelligence alerts leading to heightened security measures, as well as ongoing COVID restrictions. Therefore, the airport has taken several measures to ensure a smooth experience while keeping security protocol intact," a CSMIA spokesperson said in the statement.
These measures, the airport operator said, include resuming T-1 operations from October 13 with flights operated by Go First, followed by AirAsia India on October 16, it said.
Mumbai Airport on October 4 announced the reopening of its domestic passenger terminal T1 from the midnight of October 20, saying GoFirst, AirAsia India, Star Air and TruJet will resume all their domestic operations from Terminal 1 from October 20 midnight.
However, IndiGo's select flights will resume from October 31 with most of its flights operating from T2 and base flights will operate out of Terminal 1, it had stated.
The Mumbai airport authorities had suspended flight services from T1 in mid-April after the deadly second wave of the pandemic hit the country and moved all operations to T2, which is largely used for international connectivity.
The other measures, the spokesperson said in the statement on Friday, are deployment of additional personnel to handle the passenger inflow at Security Handling Area (SHA) as an immediate remedy to deal with passenger congestion.
Installing additional X-ray machines over the next four days to expedite scanning of passengers' carry-on luggage and asking airlines to remind passengers to report early and allow them to check-in their cabin luggage to avoid delays at security handling are the other mitigating measures taken by the airport operator, it said.
In a tweet, Bollywood musician Vishal Dadlani said, "literally feels like we're in the dark ages".
"Endless milling crowds, machines breaking down, tempers frayed, chaos everywhere. Staff doing their best but absolutely unable to cope," he said.
Along with a video of the jam-packed terminal, another passenger said, "complete chaos at Mumbai airport and the poor admin/officials have no idea how to control it. Proper mismanagement".
Stating that the other city airports of the country also witnessed similar scenes, the CSMIA in its earlier statement in the day said, "owing to recent intelligence reports received by stakeholders and threats at another airport in the state, security has been further beefed up at CSMIA." "The security and safety of our passengers are of utmost priority and our endeavour is to continue to not compromise on these critical aspects," it added.
"CSMIA sincerely regrets the congestion at the security area and the inconvenience caused. Passenger safety is our utmost priority, and security aspects cannot be compromised."
“Along with the different airlines, we are providing full support to affected passengers and have already accommodated the majority of passengers on alternative flights,” the private airport operator said.
CSMIA has deployed additional staff for a quicker turnaround at all the security checkpoints for a smoother passenger experience. Additionally, the airport is following all the COVID protocols laid down by the government to ensure a smoother transition, it had said in its earlier statement.
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