Safety drill delays flights, hassles fliers at Mumbai airport
An 80-minute evacuation drill at terminal 1 (T1) of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) on Friday afternoon caught many passengers unawares and led to a few delays, said an airport official.
The bomb threat evacuation drill is an annual exercise carried out by the airport’s security, during which the domestic terminal is evacuated.
Passengers who wanted to enter the terminal were kept away from the building as part of the exercise. Many of them said they were confused and complained about long queues at T1 after the drill. A Bengaluru-based flier, who had to catch a flight from T1, said, “I was clueless when we were not allowed to enter the terminal. I saw a group of police officers running into the building. I thought the airport was shut owing to an emergency.”
A spokesperson of the airport operator, Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), said, “MIAL organised a surprise simulated drill wherein the airport received a bomb threat call to the Bomb Threat Assessment Committee (BTAC) at T1 at 12:45 hours. The drill was further assessed as specific thereby evacuating the T1 at 13:00 hours. After successful assessments, checks and evacuation, the terminal was declared safe.”
An airport official said the drill is conducted once a year and involves the Central Industrial Security Force, fire department, Airports Authority of India, local police and airport security officials. “Though preparations for the surprise drill began from 12pm, it commenced from around 12.48pm and went up to around 2.07pm. As departing passengers were held in the city side of T1 and arriving passengers were in the arrival area, a few departing flights were delayed,” said the official.However, a senior air traffic control (ATC) official said the drill did not affect the flight operations to a large extent. “Flight operations were delayed to some extent owing to extreme drop in visibility at 3pm,” he said.