Reported by Keshab Pani
Bhubaneswar, Aug 10:
A month after Odisha’s Biju Patnaik International Airport started international operations, we went to the airport to see the progress made to the infrastructure and spoke to passengers to understand how things have changed for them.
Traffic So far:
More than 900 foreign passengers have landed in the airport in the last one month since international operations began.
As per information provided by Air India authorities, the airport authorities handled customs and immigration checks for 21 international passengers on the first day of operation from countries such as Philippines, Slovakia and Saudi Arabia.
Overall, 540 passengers landed in the airport during the Nabakalebara between July 15 and 28 from countries such as England, USA, Singapore, UAE, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. 740 passengers landed in Terminal-2 in the last one month itself.
“Air India continues to be the preferred operator as it provides maximum international air facilities for the passengers. We have flown the maximum number of passengers to Dubai. The passengers also prefer to travel from Terminal-2 as compared to Terminal-1,” said Air India Station Manager Tapas Das.
Even though Terminal-2 has been made functional and all preparations were made to open the ticket counters, none of them barring Air India’s has been made functional yet.
The small cabins made at the exit route lie unused. The tourism department has done nothing after fixing its logins on the empty cabins.
Non-Functional Parking Lot:
The large parking lot next to Terminal-2 continues to be non-functional. The vehicles continue to be parked outside. The most unruly are the bikers, who park their vehicles just about anywhere they find convenient.
The parking lot staffs were seen turning a blind eye to this and instead paid their full attention to collect tolls.
The parking place made to house 300 cars, 45 taxis and six buses has turned into a cricket playground for local youth!
Lack of Information systems:
The airport authorities have not done enough to help international passengers understand the benefits of flying through Terminal-2.
Many of them get down at Terminal -1 and walk all the way to Terminal-2 after being denied entry by security staff since some of the display boards placed around the exit route are not working.
“The authorities really need to work on Terminal-2. The passenger information display boards should be made functional. Also, lack of information about the Terminal-2 means we face a lot of trouble carrying our luggage while walking all the way from Terminal-1,” said passenger Manas Panda.
Improper Security Arrangements:
Much has been said about the terrorist threats to the airports. However, the security lapse was evident at Terminal-2. Only a handful of staff were deployed between the entrance and exit route. While the security arrangements of Terminal -1 appeared to be good, we found only two cops at the entrance and one at the exit route of Terminal-2. To top it up, there was no patrolling in Terminal-2.
“We all know about the terrorist attacks being carried out at airports. The security arrangements at Terminal-2 should have been better. I found that anyone can go till the entrance of Terminal-2 without being checked. It needs to be addressed,” said Mahendra Sethi, a passenger.
Most of the passengers we spoke to had mixed feelings about the experience at the airport. While the initiation of international air operations was received warmly, lack of facilities, infrastructure and proper security arrangements remained a concern.
“We are getting international facilities here. Earlier, we used to have the custom and immigration checks at New Delhi airport. Now we can get it done here. This is good, but the infrastructure here needs to develop. The authorities need to pay attention to security and baggage handling,” said passenger Prassanjit Purohit.
“Earlier, it used to take three hours to get the custom and immigration checks done at IGI Airport of Delhi. It is a welcome move to get it done here. However, it doesn’t work properly on occasions. The authorities need to address these challenges,” added another passenger M Noor Rehman.