The passengers said the airport had 24 to 30 immigration counters in the international arrival lounge, but several of them were empty, leading to long hours for clearances. The international arrivals have to go through a biometric identification system but some of the scanners were generating errors.
Scores of passengers spent an average of three to four hours at Mumbai airport’s immigration counters for international arrivals early Tuesday morning. The chaos was reminiscent of a similar situation in the Capital recently, as hundreds of passengers ended up spending an average of three to four hours in the queue.
Many took to Twitter to vent by posting videos and photographs of huge crowd waiting patiently at immigration counters. The passengers said the airport had 24 to 30 immigration counters in the international arrival lounge, but several of them were empty, leading to long hours for clearances. The international arrivals have to go through a biometric identification system but some of the scanners were generating errors, forcing them to re-scan several times.
In the early morning hours, an average of 12 to 14 flights arrive at Mumbai airport — more than half are international flights. At 9.30 am, an exhausted passenger tweeted to Home Minister Amit Shah, “Sir, the immigration process at international arrivals at Mumbai Airport is in complete shambles. Passengers who arrived at 5.30am are still in queue in immigration with no end in sight. Needs urgent intervention as passengers are being to put through so much trouble.”
Another passenger Jitendra Padhye said, “Very long lines at arrivals immigration today. People waited for 4+ hours. Not good for young kids and old people. Why such long lines? So many empty counters and those fingerprint sensors never work…”
Sudhir Shenoy, a passenger from Kuwait, tweeted, “Kuwait to Mumbai flying time 3.30 hrs. Getting out of Mumbai Airport immigration queue 3 hrs. Welcome to Mumbai!” Shenoy said only one immigration counter was open for a queue of over 100 people.
Dipping into dark humour, Nymrata Advani posted a video of loud cheers each time a passenger cleared immigration.
Airport officials expressed helplessness as they cannot interfere with the manpower deployment in immigration and customs, which are central government agencies. It is however unclear if there is indeed a manpower crunch at the immigration division, as passengers faced similar issues last weekend.
Each year, December witnesses a huge surge in domestic and international passenger volumes, and after the pandemic restrictions were lifted, the volume of international passengers visiting India increased substantially. An expert called it “revenge travel” by domestic passengers who had to repeatedly cancel their holidays in the last two years and are now making up for it.
On December 10, when Mumbai airport recorded its highest passenger footfall in a single day at 1,50,988, the domestic passenger volume had increased by 26 per cent, while the international passenger volume had increased 140 per cent compared to the same day in 2021.
Source : Hindustan Times