The city’s private jet owners are upset because the Mumbai’s airport operator has been unable to start international operations from its corporate terminal despite a clearance from the civil aviation ministry.
In 2009, the airport set up a corporate terminal equipped with conference rooms, crew rest lounges, eating outlets and a bar for fliers using private aircraft on domestic routes. The terminal has a separate entrance from Kalina.
Last September, the aviation ministry allowed passengers using private jets to use the terminal for international travel.
This will help high-end travellers avoid long queues at immigration and customs clearance points.
However, five months on, the absence of a dedicated custom and immigration staff has delayed the international service from taking off.
Taj Air, the Tata Group’s private charter company, wrote to the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) citing inconvenience caused due to the delay. “We approached MIAL because the delay is affecting our passengers,” said Atiesh Mishra, general manager, flight operations, Taj Air.
Apart from long queues, the company said it wastes nearly an hour ferrying passengers by car from the international terminal to the corporate terminal because the airport has a 15 km per hour speed limit for vehicles plying on the airfield’s perimeter road.
There are 28 private charter firms flying corporate bigwigs in and out of the city. “When we have such good infrastructure in place why waste it?” added Mishra.
“We have to check-in three hours before boarding, such a ridiculous waste of time,” said another top executive with a corporate house requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Private jets also allow passengers to chose their flight timings as per their appointments at the destination.
The customs department said that the airport operator’s proposal to allocate manpower to the corporate terminal is under consideration.
“It would take some time because we need to discuss certain queries with MIAL,” said PM Govande, commissioner of customs, airport. Rajvardhan, the deputy commissioner of police, (special branch- II), which handles immigrations refused to comment.
(Inputs from Manish Pachouly and Shailendra Mohan)