Faster pro­cesses at In­dian Air­ports

Business Traveller (India) - - CONTENTS -

Once fully-govern­ment owned air­ports, those in Ben­galuru, Hyderabad, Mum­bai, New Delhi and Kochi are now op­er­ated un­der a pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship with the govern­ment. Ben­galuru and Mum­bai are man­aged by GVK, while Hyderabad and Delhi by GMR. Kochi, how­ever, is run jointly with the pub­lic, wherein pas­sion­ately pa­tri­otic res­i­dents pooled in money for its up­grade. This is per­haps why its ex­pan­sion is not as fast as its coun­ter­parts.

Let’s take a look at how these air­ports are mak­ing travel eas­ier for their pas­sen­gers.


Some two months ago, Busi­ness Trav­eller In­dia re­ported about HeliTaxii, a he­li­copter taxi ser­vice in Ben­galuru. Op­er­ated by Thumby Avi­a­tion, it car­ries pas­sen­gers between Ban­ga­lore In­ter­na­tional Air­port (BIAL) and Elec­tronic City in a six-seater Bell 407 he­li­copter.

For the 15-minute jour­ney, a ticket price of `3,500 (plus taxes) per per­son, sounds steep. But a chat with Govind Nair, di­rec­tor of busi­ness devel­op­ment at Thumby Avi­a­tion re­veals that the ser­vice doesn’t have a niche au­di­ence af­ter all.

“We were quite sur­prised to re­ceive book­ings from fam­i­lies and for­eign tourists too, apart from the usual VIPs and HNIs,” he said when chat­ting about Ben­galuru’s un­pre­dictable traf­fic be­ing one fac­tor to launch this ser­vice. By road, the jour­ney between the two lo­ca­tions lasts two hours if not more. The sec­ond rea­son for the launch of HeliTaxii, as Nair sim­ply puts it is: “Sky­ways are the fu­ture of travel.”

At the time of its launch, Jayant Sinha, Union Min­is­ter of State for Civil Avi­a­tion said: “Fol­low­ing the ex­am­ple of BLR Air­port, we would like to see sim­i­lar ser­vices be­ing in­tro­duced at other air­ports in the coun­try that will make travel sim­pler for pas­sen­gers.”

Bring­ing an­other ser­vice to the air­port is Fly­bus (run by the state’s KSRTC). The lux­ury Volvo has an “in-bus” chem­i­cal toi­let, live dis­play of flight tim­ings, and re­clin­ing seats. This ser­vice is con­ve­nient to trav­ellers who, at the time of book­ing flight tick­ets, can book a seat (`800 on­wards) on the bus from BIAL to Kar­nataka’s smaller towns. Cur­rently, the bus con­nects the air­port to My­suru, Madik­eri, Man­ga­lore, Kun­da­pur, Coimbatore and Salem, and has ad­di­tional ser­vices from other parts of the city.

For those who choose taxis in­tead, BIAL was the first to al­lot des­ig­nated park­ing slots and pick-up ar­eas for taxi ag­gre­ga­tors like Ola and Uber within the air­port premises. It helps when pas­sen­gers no longer need to cross over the air­port bound­aries and onto the road for a taxi, or be re­stricted to take the more ex­pen­sive pre-paid taxi ser­vice.

On the dig­i­tal front, BIAL is in the process of im­ple­ment­ing the Aad­haar-based iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. At the time of book­ing your flight, your Aad­haar num­ber is paired with your air ticket, so you can walk through se­cu­rity check points in­stead of wait­ing in queue for a se­cu­rity per­son­nel to phys­i­cally screen you. De­tails of how it will work will be re­vealed on fi­nal­i­sa­tion, just be­fore im­ple­men­ta­tion. What has been con­firmed though is that with Aad­haar-based iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, se­cu­rity checks from check-in to board­ing the air­craft can be com­pleted in ten min­utes, which is 15 min­utes less than the time it cur­rently takes. BIAL says, “We are in the process of iden­ti­fy­ing a part­ner for ex­e­cu­tion. Once im­ple­mented, we will be the first air­port in the coun­try to ver­ify pas­sen­gers through the Aad­haaren­abled en­try.”

An­other process un­der trial is Smart Se­cu­rity Lane. The in­te­grated sys­tem com­bines cabin bag­gage X-ray machines, an au­to­mated tray re­turn sys­tem and an in­tel­li­gent im­age screen on which hand­bags’ items are examined for threat by a se­cu­rity per­son­nel. Through the use of ad­vanced com­puter tech­nol­ogy and with the aide of CISF (Cen­tral In­dus­trial Se­cu­rity Force) – In­dia’s law en­force­ment civil­ian agency, hand bag­gage screen­ing time will be re­duced by at least 60 per cent per hour. De­tails and when it will be im­ple­mented are un­known, but we do know that the idea is to re­duce wait­ing

Cochin In­ter­na­tional Air­port (CIAL) is In­dia’s first green­field air­port and the first in the world to op­er­ate en­tirely on so­lar en­ergy

time in the al­ready crowded air­port, well be­fore the new Ter­mi­nal 2 will be partly ready for use in the first quar­ter of 2021.


Cochin In­ter­na­tional Air­port (CIAL) is In­dia’s first green­field air­port and the first in the world to op­er­ate en­tirely on so­lar en­ergy. An­other feather in its hat of “firsts in In­dia” is the di­rect wa­ter­way con­nec­tiv­ity that is on its way to im­ple­men­ta­tion. The project is a joint ven­ture between Ker­ala Wa­ter­ways and In­fra­struc­ture Lim­ited (KWIL), a spe­cial pur­pose ve­hi­cle, floated by the State govern­ment, jointly with CIAL. It aims at mak­ing 610km of Ker­ala’s wa­ter­ways nav­i­ga­ble by 2022. One of the boat ter­mi­nals between Ko­valam and Bekal via Kochi will be at CIAL, in ad­di­tion to two other air­ports in the state. The com­mit­tee has al­ready ini­ti­ated clean­ing of the canals in cer­tain ar­eas to fa­cil­i­tate this ser­vice, thus re­duc­ing time on the road dur­ing traf­fic and en­hanc­ing air­port ac­ces­si­bil­ity lo­cally. Once ac­tive, hope­fully by the sec­ond half of 2020, pas­sen­gers can board a so­lar-pow­ered boat ser­vice at Kochi marine drive for the air­port.


The me­dia has been abuzz with news on Delhi In­ter­na­tional Air­port’s (DIAL) ex­pan­sion plans for Ter­mi­nal 1; al­though not nec­es­sar­ily al­ways for the right rea­sons with bud­get car­ri­ers re­sist­ing (in vain) the pres­sure to move op­er­a­tions to T2. What has been well un­der­stood through this is that T1 was han­dling 20 per cent more than its full ca­pac­ity of 20 mil­lion pas­sen­gers per an­num. In­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tions at DIAL run out of T1 and T3 both, the lat­ter too run­ning to its full ca­pac­ity. By mov­ing a third of bud­get air­lines’ do­mes­tic op­er­a­tions to un­der­utilised T2, load on T1 re­duces, al­low­ing ex­pan­sion work to be­gin for doubling its ca­pac­ity.

DIAL is work­ing on three more ser­vices to re­duce crowd­ing at the air­port. Un­der trial is the bag-tag ser­vice. This ben­e­fits pas­sen­gers who have checked in on­line or at DIAL’s self-check-in kiosks, but have check-in bag­gage. Self-ser­vice coun­ters just like the manned ones al­low you to scan your board­ing card for a bag tag be­fore the ma­chine ac­cepts the check-in bag. It is still un­der trial and par­tic­u­lars such as what hap­pens if the pas­sen­ger has ex­cess bag­gage (per­haps sent to the manned counter) are be­ing worked out.

Also un­der test­ing at se­cu­rity check, the 18-me­tre long Au­to­matic Tray Re­turn Sys­tem will re­duce the time spent wait­ing for a per­son­nel to col­lect empty trays from one end of the belt to the other. The mech­a­nised sys­tem au­to­mat­i­cally col­lects and de­liv­ers empty trays like clock­work between pas­sen­gers.

At the board­ing area, it is un­likely one will face hu­man in­ter­ac­tion in the fu­ture. “Flap gates” or au­to­mated kiosks will open only af­ter scan­ning your board­ing card. These too are sen­si­tive to the time and area you’re in. If the kiosk al­lows ac­cess to gates one to ten, those board­ing from any other gate will be de­nied en­try. Even if you’re at the right gate, but board­ing doesn’t start un­til af­ter a few hours, you may not be let through.


GMR Hyderabad In­ter­na­tional Air­port (GHIAL) sees ben­e­fit in em­ploy­ing “helpers” for an eas­ier pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence. It launched Pas­sen­ger is Prime (PIP) last year in April with the aim to pro­vide them as­sis­tance any­where in the air­port for what­ever their needs may be. To fa­cil­i­tate this, GHIAL has de­ployed a team of Pas­sen­ger Ser­vice As­so­ci­ates or PSAs, clothed in turquoise green T-shirts for easy iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, pri­mar­ily in the check-in, se­cu­rity check, trans­fers and se­cu­rity hold/ board­ing amongst other ar­eas.

SGK Kishore, CEO, GHIAL said: “Many trav­ellers, es­pe­cially those who are not fre­quent yers or those with spe­cial needs, some­times nd it chal­leng­ing to nav­i­gate through the many steps in­volved in mod­ern air travel and they o en en­counter mo­ments of anx­i­ety dur­ing their jour­ney. Keep­ing this in mind, we have in­ducted a team of highly mo­ti­vated trained pro­fes­sion­als (PSAs) who are in­tu­itive, em­pa­thetic and will­ing to go the ex­tra mile for mak­ing our pas­sen­gers’ jour­ney through our air­port a pleas­ant and has­sle-free ex­pe­ri­ence. Go­ing for­ward, we will col­lab­o­rate with other key stake­hold­ers such as air­lines, Cus­toms, CISF and Im­mi­gra­tion to launch more such ini­tia­tives de­signed to make the pas­sen­gers’ jour­ney through our air­port a more safe, se­cure and pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence.”

With CISF, GHIAL has ear­marked a ded­i­cated pre-em­barka­tion area at the do­mes­tic ter­mi­nal’s en­try gate for those trav­el­ling with only hand­bags. On print­ing their board­ing pass from the self-ser­vice kiosks out­side the ter­mi­nal build­ing, pas­sen­gers can walk through the Ex­press Se­cu­rity Check lane. ey al­to­gether skip the check-in area and head straight towards the board­ing area, through the ex­clu­sive se­cu­rity check point for such pas­sen­gers.

In case you’ve checked into Hyderabad’s Air­port Novo­tel Ho­tel, you can also check-in for your ight at the Com­mon Use Self Ser­vice (CUSS) machines at the ho­tel – a rst of its kind in In­dia. is is sub­ject to hav­ing a con rmed out­bound ticket for do­mes­tic travel. e CUSS ma­chine prints out the board­ing card for you. Ba­si­cally, it works just as any on­line self-check-in ser­vice would, only, you can leave ight de­tails with the ho­tel to help you check-in for your ight ahead of time. Sup­ple­ment­ing this ser­vice is the self­bag­gage drop cen­tre at the air­port, which is in the pi­lot phase and ini­tially for do­mes­tic pas­sen­gers.

GHIAL will even­tu­ally catch up with in­ter­na­tional air­port stan­dards. Its e-board­ing fa­cil­ity does away with the manda­tory stamp­ing of the board­ing pass at se­cu­rity check, as is the con­tin­ued prac­tice in the rest of In­dia. In­stead, elec­tronic gates let you through on slid­ing the board­ing card over them. It speeds up the se­cu­rity check process by not hav­ing to in­di­vid­u­ally walk to a per­son­nel for stamp­ing.

For those need­ing as­sis­tance with their bags, GHIAL has 12 paid porters in bright or­ange uni­forms avail­able round the clock at both de­par­tures and ar­rivals of the in­te­grated, sin­gu­lar do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal. e ser­vice starts from `200 and is charged as per the size and num­ber of bags.


Com­mon Use Self Ser­vice (CUSS) machines at Mum­bai In­ter­na­tional Air­port (MIAL) are al­ready in place at do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional check-in ar­eas. A few air­lines have in­te­grated with this ser­vice. Here, pas­sen­gers can check them­selves in for their ight, print their board­ing pass, weigh their own bags and get bag­gage tags that track checked in lug­gage. is re­duces their wait time, es­pe­cially dur­ing peak hours, thereby avoid­ing ser­pen­tine queues.

A smart­phone app avail­able on iOS and An­droid plat­forms is equipped with aug­mented tech­nol­ogy. Al­low it ac­cess to your phone’s cam­era, hold it up to see what you’re see­ing and it will tell you ex­actly where you are or what the shop, eatery or busi­ness is about. On en­ter­ing ight de­tails, it leads you to your de­sired des­ti­na­tion

On print­ing their board­ing pass from the self-ser­vice kiosks out­side the ter­mi­nal build­ing, pas­sen­gers can walk through the Ex­press Se­cu­rity Check lane

within the air­port, up­dates on real-time in­for­ma­tion such as ight de­lays and tells you how far you are from the board­ing gate. List of ser­vices at the air­port amongst oth­ers can be ac­cessed through the app.

e job of an Au­to­matic Tray Re­turn Sys­tem is cur­rently be­ing done by an ap­pointed per­son who col­lects all empty trays and brings them to those wait­ing in queue at se­cu­rity check and hand­bag screen­ing. e ser­vice is not yet avail­able, but is in its nal test­ing. It will not only re­duce the num­ber of air­port sta , but will also elim­i­nate chances of wait­ing for an empty tray, thus hold­ing up the line.

ere is one more ser­vice for pas­sen­gers worth men­tion­ing, though it isn’t tech­nol­ogy re­lated. It in­volves three Golden Retriever dogs. From Fri­daySun­day, in the evening un­til mid­night, the ca­nines make rounds of do­mes­tic ar­rival and de­par­ture ar­eas to com­fort ner­vous yers.

LEFT AND RIGHT: Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Mum­bai and its self bag­gage drop kiosks

PRE­VI­OUS PAGE: Kempegowda In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Ben­galuru CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ra­jeev Gandhi In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Hyderabad and e-board­ing gate there; and self check-in kiosk at Indira Gandhi In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Delhi

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