NEW DELHI – With Air India set to shift its entire domestic operations to Terminal 3 on November 11, the airline is still grappling with major baggage handling issues even as it called in 100 extra staff members from other cities to pitch in.
According to the Times of India, on Sunday, the national carrier saw several delays, some up to seven hours, which the airline blamed on parking bay unavailability the previous day.
”Since there was a shortage of parking bays on Saturday, many of our flights got delayed and its impact could be felt on Sunday as well,” said sources. However, ministry sources said that the airline was facing a huge problem with its ground handling agency and even though it had outsourced some of its flights to other ground handlers, the flights that it was managing on its own were in a mess.
Two flights, one for Chennai scheduled for departure at 7.45pm and the other to Amritsar scheduled for 7.30 pm were delayed. Boarding cards for both the flights had been issued, but the boarding didn’t happen. This triggered anger among the passengers who started shouting at the security gate.
”Against a required strength of 650, Air India had only 370-odd ground handlers working for it. Added to that was the problem of divided operations where the airline’s manpower had been split completely. The airline now needs to sort out these issues before the entire operations fall flat,” said a senior official.
On Sunday, AI 645 from Chennai scheduled to arrive at noon finally landed in Delhi at 7.15pm. AI 349 from Shanghai scheduled to arrive at 2.45am landed at 8.44pm, also delaying its departure. AI 610 to Jaipur left Delhi at 9.45pm against its scheduled departure of 6.20pm.
”The flights that have been disrupted are only those that have been shifted to T3. Our winter schedule was based on the understanding that domestic operations would have been shifted to T3 by then. Had we not moved these 11 flights to T3, we would have been facing worse delays. On Saturday, for some reason the airport management was not giving us parking bays. Those that we were getting were also in the international side from where we had to bring passengers to the terminal in buses. Only on Sunday were we given aerobridges and we also called in about 100 extra personnel from other stations to pitch in till the time that all operations move here. From Monday, we are expecting to see a huge improvement in services,” said an airline official.