Scindia directs Delhi airport operator DIAL to do better crowd management

Delhi airport, Scindia

NEW DELHI, INDIA MAY 24: Planes are seen parked at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, on May 24, 2020 in New Delhi, India. The flight services are resuming from Monday after an order by the central government. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Union government had restricted all modes of travel including air travel since March 25. The government last week announced resumption of air travel from May 25. All modes of travel were suspended on March 25 when a nationwide lockdown was imposed to check the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday directed Delhi airport operator DIAL to implement better crowd management strategies after passengers complained of chaos and crowding at its terminal following the implementation of new coronavirus-related travel guidelines, senior government officials said.

Amid concerns over the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the Centre had issued a revised guideline for international travellers which came into effect on December 1.

The minister called a meeting on Monday with officials of the Airports Authority of India, Bureau of Immigration and GMR group-led Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), they noted.

Officials of Genestrings Diagnostics, the sole laboratory that does RT-PCR testing at the Delhi airport, were also present at the meeting.

At the meeting, the minister directed the DIAL to implement better crowd management strategies, officials noted.

The DIAL did not respond to PTI’s request for a statement on the matter.

Commenting on a tweet about the situation at the Delhi airport after the new travel rules kicked in, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram had said on Saturday: “As I feared and warned. Total confusion and crowding in airports.”

Sharing pictures of long queues at the Delhi airport, another Twitter user had said on Friday, “Taxes paid, airport charges paid. Huge rush but available resources are not being utilised. For one hour of flight approx three hours need to be spent in queue for processes to be completed.”

The DIAL had said on Saturday that 20 dedicated counters have been set up for the passengers arriving from “at-risk” countries and having pre-booked their mandatory COVID-19 test.

According to the Union Health Ministry’s guidelines issued on November 30, all passengers coming from “at-risk” countries have to compulsorily undergo RT-PCR test and two per cent of passengers arriving from other countries would also have to take the test on a random basis.

The passengers will have to wait for the results before leaving the airport or taking a connecting flight, according to the guidelines.

Countries in Europe, including the UK, and South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Israel have been placed in the “at-risk” category by the Union Health Ministry.

At the Delhi airport, rapid PCR test costs a passenger Rs 3,500 but the results come in 60-90 minutes. RT-PCR costs a passenger Rs 500 and the results come in around six hours. A passenger coming from an “at-risk” country can choose either of the tests at the Delhi airport.

(Cover: Gettty)

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