Thursday, March 23, 2017

Immigration grouse at Pune airport

Pune: Fed up with the “irrelevant and annoying questions” asked by Maharashtra police at the Pune airport’s immigration counters, officials from private airlines have urged the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to depute trained people from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to handle immigrations instead.

Suhas Jadhaw, station manager of Air India, Pune, has sent a letter to the AAI, mentioning that the immigration process needs a step-up. “The airport will be expanding and, like in other airports, the immigration counters need to be handled by people who have the requisite training. The process in Pune is a bit slow and as the expansion process is on, the passenger traffic, including the influx of foreign travellers, will also increase. Hence, officials from the MHA, who are trained for the job, need to be deputed at the airport,” the letter stated.

Jadhaw reasoned that those currently deployed at the counters were doing a shoddy job, saying, “It is the duty of the personnel to question fliers to ensure safety. But, sometimes, questions that are totally unrelated to safety or security are asked, which annoys the passengers. Due to this, flights often get delayed. So, we need trained officials for immigration counters.” According to airlines’ officials, around six flights have been delayed due to the process in the past month.

Four international flights take off from the airport for Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Frankfurt, with around 10,000- 20,000 passengers flying out for these destinations every month. Airport director Ajay Kumar said, “The proposal will be taken up with the appropriate authorities. The AAI is putting up more number of counters for passenger convenience and to reduce the time taken during immigration procedures.”

But, staff from other airlines also claimed that the immigration process is slow and needs to improve. “They take too much time for the process. We know they are trained, but they need to handle it in a more professional manner. Sometimes, they ask silly questions to the fliers, which should be avoided,” said an officer from Jet Airways on condition of anonymity. In defence, a staff deputed at the Pune airport immigration department, who did not wish to be named, added, “We are doing what we have been asked to do so. We are trained officials. If something goes wrong during the process, who will take responsibility?”
23/03/17 Sushant Ranjan/Pune Mirror