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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Service with a smile: Airport staff train to be friendly, helpful

Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, September 10, 2009
First Published: 02:42 IST(10/9/2009) | Last Updated: 02:43 IST(10/9/2009)

The next time you catch a flight from the Mumbai airport expect polite greetings from not just the smiling airhostess, but also the security personnel, immigration and Customs officials.

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The Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) is training every staff member to be friendly and helpful to fliers.

“We want to bring uniformity amongst different departments dealing with passengers at various levels inside the terminal,” said the MIAL spokesperson.

“Prior to privatisation, the airport staff had limited interaction with passengers. Therefore, we are training everybody.”

The staff is being trained to be congenial because for the first time since the city airport was privatised in May 2006 its service quality audit in the recent quarter showed that ‘staff behaviour’ was the biggest passenger grouse.

For the audit, terminal staffers randomly select people from around 16,000 travellers who visit the airport daily.

The feedback is fed in palm-sized electronic devices and analysed.

A batch of 120 immigration officers attended the first training session last week. The training comprises imparting soft skills and knowledge about other departments.

For example, a Central Industrial Security Guard deployed at the security hold should be able to suggest a restobar or a massage in the airport spa to fliers killing time before boarding.

MIAL also sees this training programme as a ticket to make it to the big league of world-class airports.

New airlines, retail stores or franchisers acquire terminal space in airports on the basis of their popularity among travellers.

“For instance, six Indian airports handle international flights. A business traveller might prefer Mumbai over others if the staff is helpful in catching a connecting flight,” said an industry expert, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

“Changi airport in Singapore is popular not just because it is a business hub. People consider it as a destination.”

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