Mumbai: There was chaos at Terminal 2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) on Friday morning, with a large number of passengers stuck in long, endless queues for check-ins, security checks, leading to many of them missing their flights.
While irate passengers landed heavily on social media to vent their exasperation and anger over the mismanagement at the airport now run by the Adani group, the authorities attributed the chaos to the sudden rush of passengers due to the ‘festive season’, claiming that other airports in the country had also witnessed similar scenes on Friday.
Visuals of thousands of passengers being stranded near check-in counters at the CSMIA went viral on social media, spreading panic among citizens. The internet was abuzz with people complaining about their having missed flights due to sudden crowds, blaming the mismanagement at the airport.
A flyer, who was to board a 8.45pm flight to Bengaluru, had arrived much earlier at T2, after word of the commotion at the CSMIA went viral. “After reading reports and social media posts, I was very worried about missing my flight. I’d rather be seven hours early at the airport and enjoy the lounge time. IndiGo, however, had put out an alert on their social media pages, intimating about the crowd and heavy rush at the Mumbai airport, which helped me plan my travel well,” said Anshul Garg, a city-based event manager.
Bollywood singer and composer Vishal Dadlani was among those stuck and took to Twitter to claim, “T2 AT CSMIA (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport) is a shambles. Literally feels like we’re in the dark ages. Endless milling crowds, machines breaking down, tempers frayed, chaos everywhere. Staff doing their best but absolutely unable to cope. Who runs this absolute shitshow? Please tag them,” he tweeted.
Ameya Joshi, founder of aviation network blog Network Thoughts, told the FPJ, “Mumbai airport should have anticipated the growing numbers and looked at opening up T1 earlier to avoid such a situation. The first seven days of Oct have seen 10 per cent growth over September and with the Dussehra and pre-Diwali rush, October will definitely see traffic cross the three-lakh-passengers-per day mark,” he said
Harsh Khandelwal, 39, a stock broker and a frequent flyer, said even in Covid times, the wait time at the airport had increased, and considering that Navratri is on, the airport should have planned well in advance. “Many passengers are flying home to be with their loved ones for Navratri, Durgo Pujo, and airport could have planned it better. But the airport need not be blamed all this while, as one should also consider the difficult times that we are going through, we should cut them some slack.”
Commenting on the rush and crowd management at the CSMIA on Friday, a spokesperson said, “With the onset of the festive season, there has been a surge in passenger traffic and a sudden spike witnessed at CSMIA this morning. Similar experiences have also been witnessed in other city airports of the country. Further owing to recent intelligence reports received by stakeholders and threat at another airport in the state, security measures have been further enhanced at CSMIA.” The management has deployed additional staff for a quicker turnaround at all the security checkpoints, for a smoother passenger experience, the spokesperson said.
By late Friday evening, the CSMIA had decided to prepone the October 20 opening of Terminal 1 to October 13. “The delays were compounded due to intelligence alerts leading to heightened security measures, as well as ongoing COVID restrictions. Considering the situation, additional personnel will be deployed to handle the passenger inflow at Security Handling Area (SHA) as an immediate remedy to passenger congestion, additional X-ray machines will be installed over the next four days to faster scan passengers’ carry-on luggage,” said the spokesperson, adding that the airport provided full support to affected passengers and had already accommodated the majority of passengers on alternative flights.