By Our Correspondent
Air Travellers from Odisha face a host of problems which need to be redressed by the Airport Authority of India as well as the major airlines and DGCA. On 29th July,2016 air travellers of Odisha formed an association “Kalinga Air Travellers Association” (KATA) at Bhubaneswar, said Biswajit Mohanty, Convenor, KATA.
The first meeting was held at Ekamra Haat where members discussed various issues plaguing air travellers from BBSR. Members agreed that the following issues need to be raised with the appropriate authorities so that air travel will become easy and hassle free.
Parking Fee extortion : Members pointed out that very often they are forced to pay car parking fee for even pick up or dropping of passengers. There is a five minute time rule within which every car entering has to exit the airport premises. Even if there is a delay of 1 minute beyond 5 minutes, money is demanded. Former air force officer Mr. Kalpataru Panda pointed out that the distance was about 800 metres from gate to gate and it was difficult exit by this short time with parked cars obstructing the exit/entry gate.
The AAI has apparently handed over the entire airport road network and parking space including the exit/entry waiting space to the parking contractor which is illegal. The parking contractor can only control the parking area and charge fees for cars parked inside that area. They have no authority to collect parking fee from cars entering and exiting after dropping or pick up since the road network cannot be a parking lot.
“We demand that AAI should stop illegal collection by the parking contractor and also dismantling of the entry and exit gate. AAI can post police requisitioned from Commissionerate at the entry and exit area so that they can penalize cars which park there and not leave after drop or pick up,” Mohanty said.
Parking Contractor’s credentials: Many cases have been filed in the Airfield PS regarding misbehaviour and even assault by the staff of the Parking contractor. Passengers also report rude parking staff who often bang on car window demanding parking fee payment for delaying departure beyond 5 minutes.
We demand that the AAI cannot engage any Parking contractor who employs staff who indulged in such unlawful acts. The AAI has to seek a list of staff to be engaged by the Parking contractor and get police verification done to prevent them from being used in the airport. All staff need to wear ID cards and uniform so that they can be identified by passengers.
Inadequate maintenance of toilets : Despite the Prime Minister’s call for Swacch Bharat, it is unfortunate that BBSR airport has dirty toilets which are not cleaned regularly. This is another issue which needs to be rectified by AAI
Inconvenient flight timings: Most flights out of the airport to metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore are at late morning or afternoon time slots. This does not allow flyers from Odisha to visit these places and complete work and return the same day without a hotel stay.
Many people need to visit Delhi for an hour or two hours work in some office . They could easily leave @7.00 am and return the same day by a flight which leaves Delhi @ 8.00 pm. Right now the latest flight from Delhi (Air India) is at 6.30 pm which leaves little time for travellers to complete their office work. We demand night parking facilities at the airport so that most airlines can plan flights right from early morning. We also demand that DGCA should look into this aspect and ask airlines to reschedule accordingly.
Non access of app based taxi/autos to airport: Apparently , no app based taxis like OLA and UBER are allowed to pick up passengers arriving at the airport . There is a ban for them upto 200 metres from the exit gate and passengers who book them are asked by the driver to walk out of the gate upto 200 metres away before they can board the vehicle. We demand that AAI provide adequate security to app based taxi services so that passengers can access them right at the exit gate.
Public Transport : Though a bus service existed last year for passengers leaving the airport, this has been discontinued apparently at the behest of private taxi operators. We demand restoration of public bus transport from the airport/to the airport by AC bus which should go and leave the airport every one hour. This bus should travel along the main roads of Bhubaneswar upto Patia. 3 dedicated buses deployed by the BMC can resolve this problem.We demand that 3 AC buses procured under the JNURM project should be deployed for this purpose.
VIP Lane /Illegal Parking : AAI has set up a VIP lane which is often closed to passengers when a VIP is arriving or departing from the airport. We demand that in a democracy this is unacceptable since everyone is equal and why should the tax payer be excluded in this unfair arrangement. We also find VIP/govt. cars parked outside the exit gate which is illegal since parking is not allowed there. We demand AAI should stop these illegal practices in the airport in the interest of equity, he added.