Long queues at the Indira Gandhi International Airport’s immigration counters during peak hours have become reason for regular complaints of both passengers and officials of airlines.Passengers have to wait anywhere between 35-45 minutes in queues for immigration clearance, causing a few to even miss their flights.
Radha Mathur (name changed), who recently returned to Delhi from Malaysia, shared, “My flight arrived at 12:30 am, and by the time I reached the immigration counter, there were long queues at every counter. Many counters were closed and I had to hop from one to another to get my clearance done faster. Some immigration officials were even chatting among themselves oblivious of the commuters. By the time I finished my turn, I had already waited 45 minutes. Even women with babies were made to stand for a long time.”
Priyanka Jain, another flyer, took to Facebook to vent her anger against the immigration process at the IGI airport. She wrote, “Immigration queue was so long that it took me an hour to pass through the immigration check. You will find only half the immigration officers sitting at their desk and working; rest of them chill at the airport.”
An airport staff of Lufthansa also, requesting anonymity, said: “The infrastructure at the airport for immigration is inadequate keeping in mind the growing number of passengers this airport handles. There is also a shortage of manpower in the immigration department. Even the number of counters itself is not enough. At times, we even have to delay our take-off time, because passengers’ clearance isn’t completed on time.”
“The airlines end up paying compensation to passengers. This comes as an extra financial burden on the airlines. Not only passengers, even crew clearances are delayed at times. We try to talk to the immigration officials, but even they are helpless,” he added.
A senior officer at the immigration department said that long queues are reported also due to bunching of flights (when two or more flights land at the same time) also leads to the rush, the official said.
He, however, added, “We have achieved an ambitious rate of clearance per passenger, which stands at two-three minutes per passenger. We also have a record of clearing 85% of flights within 45 minutes. Keeping in mind the security challenges and environment India faces, this is a great achievement.”
The IGI airport which has an annual capacity of handling 61 million passengers, handled about 55 million passengers last year. The airport also has around 20 immigration counters and 12-13 exclusive immigration counters for passengers arriving on e-Tourist Visa.