The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has written to the city police asking them to deploy women constables at the Juhu airport.
The existing security staff at the Juhu airport, which caters to private helicopter companies and charter flight operators, comprises only men. “The men cannot frisk women passengers. Therefore we have asked the city police to deploy some women constables,” added the official.
On Tuesday, central intelligence agencies had issued a nationwide security alert stating that terrorist could use small planes or choppers to orchestrate aerial strikes in the state.
About 60 security guards from the police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been deployed at the Juhu airstrip in the past two days.
A requisition by the AAI for the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which guards most airports in the country, to man the Juhu airport is pending because no housing facilities have been provided for CISF personnel at the site.
Following the terror threat, flight operators have also been asked to submit a list of their equipments stored in the hangers. In another precautionary measure, the Juhu airport officials on Thursday asked helicopter and charter flight operators to unplug the batteries of aircraft. In an aircraft, battery power is used to start the engine.
“It takes at least ten minutes to connect aircraft batteries. The aircraft engine won’t start without the battery connection,” said a senior airport official at Juhu.
Airport authorities had earlier directed charter firms to accept bookings only from their regular clients.
It had also asked operators to load fuel in the aircraft only 30 minutes before every sortie.
Sources said that a team of officials from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) would be visiting the Juhu airport on Friday to check the security arrangements.
Last month, the AAI had written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation asking them to remove encroachments from the AAI land adjoining the Juhu aerodrome. However, no action has been taken. Airport officials estimate that about 29 acres of its land has been taken over by people staying in the neighbouring Nehru Nagar slums.
“About 200 hutments are barely located 100 metres from the main runway,” said an airport official.
The airport boundary wall is also broken making the airfield easily accessible for locals.