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Who’s to blame for airport mess?

Fatal accidents are becoming as common as flight delays at the congested and chaotic IGIA, reports Sidhartha Roy.
Hindustan Times | By Sidhartha Roy, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 02, 2008 01:03 AM IST

Fatal accidents are becoming as common as flight delays at the congested and chaotic Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA). In the second such incident within a week, a Ukrainian national lost his life at IGIA to an out-of-control bus and a badly managed airport.

The modernisation process of the airport by private operator Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd has been quite disorganised and passengers are facing the brunt. Lack of traffic regulation in the airside, which is with DIAL, is regularly resulting in accidents, some fatal. While Sunday’s incident happened right outside the departure terminal of the international airport, timely implementation of de-congestion plans could have averted the mishap.

Congestion at IGIA begins right at the road leading to the airport and the problem point is the ‘drop off’ area at the departure terminal. The huge coaches that bring passengers, airline cabin crew and airport staff are the biggest contributors to the congestion and that is why DIAL had decided to ban them in the area. The plan, however, would take at least three months to be implemented, a DIAL spokesman said.

The traffic outside the terminal area is managed by the Delhi Traffic Police, assisted by marshals of the private airport operator DIAL. While all buses would be banned near the heavily packed departure terminal, buses carrying airline cabin crew, airport staff and buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) were to get off the departure ramp from May 26, senior traffic officials had told Hindustan Times (A smooth ride to the airport, May 27).

The officials had also said that for the time being, these buses would not be allowed in the ‘drop off’ area from 8 p.m. to 6 am, the peak international air traffic time.

Despite the promises, it was a bus carrying cabin crew of Lufthansa Airlines that killed one passenger and injured two others on Sunday. "DTC buses are already off the ramp but buses carrying cabin crew are still coming near the departure terminal because there are no elevators to bring them upstairs if the buses are sent to the arrival area," a senior traffic official said.

A DIAL spokesman, however, denied that there was any move to ban buses with airline cabin crew on the ramp. "DTC and airport staff buses are not coming to the departure drop off area anymore. But cabin crew buses and passenger coaches are still allowed to come up," he said.

The point, however, remains that if DIAL had acted fast on creating a special parking at the arrival area downstairs for buses and bigger elevators to carry passengers and luggage to the departure terminal, this mishap wouldn’t have happened.

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