Delhi airport drafts in extra security staff after long queues lead to missed flights

Unprecedented footfall has sparked chaos at Indira Gandhi International Aiport

People have been critical of long queues at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. AFP
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India’s biggest airport is drafting in special officers to regulate the movement of passengers and open new security checkpoints after days of chaos and delays at the main international terminal.

Passengers complained on social media about long queues at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, where unprecedented footfall has been recorded throughout this month.

Several reported waiting two to three hours to pass through security, causing passengers to miss flights.

Some have even compared the airport to a “bus station” and a “fish market”.

India’s Aviation Minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia, on Monday made a surprise visit to the airport to assess the situation and announced new measures such as increasing the number of entry gates, as well as the special officers.

He said boards would be put up at every departure gate to make passengers aware of waiting times.

“I have taken a close to two-hour meeting with all stakeholders and we have done a full process study of where the bottlenecks are occurring,” Mr Scindia said in announcing the opening of two additional gates.

IGIA is the largest airport in India, with 71.1 million passengers using it annually.

It surpassed Dubai International Airport to become the world’s second-busiest airport, a report by the Official Airline Guide said in April.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, India's Civil Aviation Minister, revealed new measures to deal with the influx of passengers at Indira Gandhi International Airport. AFP

India banned overseas air travel when the Covid-19 pandemic struck but with cases waning and tourism once again peaking for the holiday season, the airport is having to accommodate huge numbers of people.

Since the beginning of the month, more than 400,000 people a day have been passing through its doors.

“We have gone from zero passengers in the Covid era to 425,000 passengers a day,” Mr Scindia said.

He said the recently launched Digi Yatra, a digital biometric service that uses facial recognition to save data, would enable the smooth processing of passenger information at entry and security points.

“Adequate manpower at the security check-in” has been requested to ease the bottleneck, he added.

About 5,000 federal police officers are on hand at IGIA to bolster security.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 12:43 PM