The much hyped international experience at Delhi Airport’s new Terminal 3 is turning out to be a letdown. Teething troubles continued at T3 a day after it was opened for commercial operations.
From problems in the aerobridges to malfunctioning conveyor belts, dead phones, empty duty free shops and unfinished finishing work T3 left a lot to be desired.
Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport has a record number of aerobridges 78 so that no passenger has to take a bus to board an aircraft. On Thursday, using the aerobridges posed a problem.
“To enter an aerobridge, passengers have to go through a glass door. These doors are access controlled and only authorized personnel can open them,” said an airline official. “On Thursday, many passengers were stuck on either side of the doors that couldn’t be opened.”
A Malaysian airlines flight was also delayed on Wednesday due to problems in aligning the aerobridge. “We will ensure that such problems do not recur in future,” said Andrew Harrison, COO of the private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd.
Passengers who arrived in the first flight on Wednesday had complained that though T3 is swanky, claiming their baggage took up almost an hour. On Thursday, the problem only worsened.
“The conveyor belt would stop suddenly and baggage processing, too, was slow,” said an airport official who didn’t wish to be named. “It’s a new terminal and the ground handlers will take some time to understand the process.”
“We had made a provision of a 10 15 minute gap between the baggages arriving from two airlines in a conveyor belt. We are planning to increase the gap so that the system works smoothly,” Harrison said.
On Wednesday, a Lufthansa and a British Airways flights had got delayed due to improper handling of baggage.
Officials of airlines and other agencies working at the airport like Customs and Central Industrial Security Force are dependent on their mobiles as most of the landline phones at T3 are not functioning.
“All the landline phones with Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) numbers, which were shifted from the old terminal are dead,” said a senior customs official who didn’t wish to be named.
Though passengers didn’t face any problem as the helpline numbers are serviced by private call centers, all phones at the airline and other offices are those of MTNL.
“While other service providers have installed their services in the given time frame, MTNL couldn’t do that,” Harrison said. “Everyone has a choice to subscribe to MTNL or other private service providers but many people want to retain their old landline numbers.”
“I have no idea about this problem,” said MTNL spokesman JP Sharma.
Most duty free shops at the airport are still empty and some only stock liquor bottles. “Our job is to provide them space and they will decide on when to stock their shops,” said an airport official.
Sources at the airport said that a lot of construction and finishing work is still going on and will be completed only by the end of September, just before the Commonwealth Games in early October.