Delhi airport's Terminal 3 (T3) may be one of the biggest in the world, but there is one area that takes it way behind others — the immigration counters. The result: acute congestion and delays.
Airline authorities said that in the past few months — during the busy winter schedule — long queues at the immigration counters became a regular sight.
"That's the only part of the huge T3 where you see congestion in the peak traffic hours. The queues take ages to move, while the immigration procedures are taken care of," said a senior official of an international airline, who did not wish to be identified.
In its meeting this month, the Airline Operators Committee (AOC), a body of airlines operating from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, had taken up the issue of delays caused by congestion at the immigration counters.
The AOC had asked all its member airlines to collate data of flight delays caused due to immigration between December 15, 2011 and January 15, 2012.
AOC plans to take up the issue with the immigration authorities and private airport operator Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), after it is armed with the data.
"Not only do our passengers face the hassle of standing in the queue for immigration, they also delayed in boarding the flight," said an airline official.
"After clearing security and immigration procedures, passengers have to walk a considerable distance to reach the aircraft, thanks to T3's huge size. Many of our flights have got delayed in the past two months just because passengers reported late for boarding," he said.
Sources at the airport said that there was shortage of immigration officials to man counters at the airport and the time taken to clear passengers varied from one official to another.
"It is not correct to say that there is a shortage because all the 46 counters are manned by us all the time," said an immigration official on condition of anonymity.