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Turbulence at airport

Everyday travellers are complaining, ground handlers as well as airline staff are disenchanted and the issue has now reached the Assembly, reports Ashok Das.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2008 03:37 IST
Ashok Das
Ashok Das
Hindustan Times

Hyderabad's new airport at Shamsabad seems to have run in to an air pocket, just days after taking off. A photograph in a newspaper, perhaps, captured the problem fittingly: A bucket collecting rainwater from a leaking roof.

But that’s the least of the troubles hitting GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL). Everyday travellers are complaining, ground handlers as well as airline staff are disenchanted and the issue has now reached the Assembly.

Cutting across party lines, MLCs at the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council have demanded government intervention in the matter and want the old Begumpet airport to remain functional for another year till the situation eases at Shamsabad. Minister for Ports and Airports M. Venkataramana Rao admitted in the House that passengers are put through hardships and promised to take up the matter with the Centre.

Passengers are the most affected lot. One has to start at least three hours ahead to catch a flight because it takes around one-and-a-half-hours to reach the airport from any point in city, that too after travelling through patchy, dug out roads and meandering traffic. Adding to the problem is fleecing by taxi operators who charge between Rs 750-1,000 for the 30-km ride. “It takes more time to reach the airport than to travel to Mumbai,” said Sudhakar Reddy, a frequent traveller.

But even inside the airport, things are yet to fall into place. There is only one helpdesk, which is inadequate to handle the flow of passengers.

“I am new to the place and wanted to be guided. For nearly 20 minutes I stood there without any help,” said Vijayakumar, who is travelling to Delhi. Even after three days, the number of helpdesks is yet to increase.

Another sore point is the cafeteria run by Café Coffee Day. It charges Rs 50 per cup against the Rs 10 charged for the same at the old airport. Passengers are angry, but GHIAL officials say they can do little, as it is not in their control.

On Wednesday, passengers raised a hue and cry after the cafeteria staff closed it for an hour for lunch break. “I wanted a sandwich and there was no place to go. At least they should have two to three cafeteria in such a huge airport,” said Arif Mohammad.

Earlier there were complaints of no washrooms for women, which the airport has rectified. International passengers are also bitter for they have to pay $25 extra before flying off.

A GHIAL official said the facilities have not been able to cope with the huge rush of visitors to the airport in the past few days.