Thursday, October 21, 2021

Int’l flights may be hit as city airport has just 1 firm handling ground ops

Chennai: International travellers may be inconvenienced when airlines resume full-fledged operations next month as the city airport is making do with just one ground handling agency. Ground handling staff board passengers, load and unload bags, clean planes and get them ready for departure — all within an hour.

The contract of the firm handling ground operations ended last December and authorities urged Air India’s agency to step in.

Airlines are worried that entrusting work to a single firm that has to handle the all cargo flights, international flights and two domestic airlines may prove problematic when flights resume in a full-fledged manner. At present, staff work with a reduced load as only 20% to 30% of pre-Covid flights operate from the international terminal, which would earlier handle close to 20,000 passengers and more than 100 flights a day.

“The turnaround time of flights from international destinations is just one hour during which the aircraft and passengers have to be handled swiftly,” said an official, further highlighting the need for more manpower and specialised equipment.

Airlines Operators Committee (AOC) of Chennai airport has requested Airport Authority of India (AAI) to rope in another ground agency to handle international flight operations. AAI called for tenders twice but failed to identify a firm due to procedural issues and legal tangles. The airport was banking on AAI’s cargo arm, but that did not work out either. Sources said ground handling requires trained personnel especially at a time when people have not handled flights for a long time.

21/10/21 V Ayyappan/Times of India

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