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21 Dec 2017

Bagdogra Airport ILS now could mean more problems

MANAS R BANNERJEE, SNS, BAGDOGRA, 20 DECEMBER 2017: The proposed Instrumental Landing System (ILS) at the Bagdogra Airport will cormpound problems that are already plaguing the airport if it is made operational without proper planning and without resolving other related and pressing issues first.
Citing some examples, a senior official associated with the airport, today said that "nobody knows" when the ILS will start functioning, but if that happens anytime soon, the present problems, given the massive growth in the number of passengers, will be compounded more than ever before, while passengers will suffer more."
According to the official, the present arrival time for flights at the airport is between 7 am and 7 pm. "But it will be expanded automatically after the authorities introduce the ILS," he said, adding that the time expansion means more activity and more problems.
Notably, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken the initiative of setting up the ILS so that aircrafts can land and take off at t e airport even at night and even during poor visibility during dense fog. Various organizations have been demanding the ILS, as frequent flight cancellations have become a common feature during the winter when dense fog engulfs the area.
The senior official said that all the problems at the airport, from traffic snarls to parking and long queues at the security hold area following
the rush of passengers, are due to shortage of security staff and space constraints both outside and inside the terminals.
According to official records, only one flight is landing and taking off between 7 am to 9 am and then flights start landing from 11 am. Significantly, though only three flights land here between 11 am and 1 pm, the same number of flights takes off, and 16 flights land and take off between 1 pm to 5 pm. Records also show that 10 flights land and seven air-crafts take off between 1 pm and 3 pm.At least nine flights take off and six aircraft land here between 3 pm and 5 pm.
According to airport officials, 12 pm to 5 pm is the peak hour for all at the airport to as the arrival and departure of passengers is the maximum.
"Several airlines will introduce their services after the AAI introduces the ILS, and passengers suffering will surely mount due to lack of basic infrastructure to accommodate them, both in the security hold areas and outside, the official said, adding that so many other related issues need to be sorted out before the airport can finally handle more aircraft, more passengers and more Vehicles.
A senior tour operator who has been reading the series of reports published in The Statesman about the problems at North Bengal and Sikkim's only airport, meanwhile, wondered: 'What will be the fate of the overall expansion project at the airport?"
(To be continued)

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