Infrastructure in place,but security concerns not cleared yet
Even as the Delhi Metros Airport Express Link is slated to open by this September,passengers to the Indira Gandhi International Airports Terminal 3 will have to wait much longer before they are able to check-in their baggage at two of the citys Metro stations. As the security concerns raised by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) have not yet been resolved,direct city check-in of baggage cannot be started at least in time for the Commonwealth Games,officials have informed.
While giving final touches to Terminal 3,which would be ready for commercial operations by the end of this month,airport developer Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) has also constructed a separate tunnel to ensure contamination-free transfer of checked-in baggage to the respective aircraft. But DIALs chief operating officer,Peter Noyce told Newsline it seemed unlikely that the direct check-in facility would be ready in time for the Games. But we will ensure that the baggage retrieval time is minimised at the airport, Noyce said.
As part of the direct city check-in of baggage,DIAL has put in place a baggage reconciliation system to ensure foolproof security of the baggage,which would arrive at the airports Terminal 3 in a separate compartment with sealed containers. There are certain procedures for approval,and the airlines have to be prepared. The government will decide when this facility should start. But from the infrastructure point of view,we are ready, said DIALs chief operating officer Andrew Harrison.
Sources said that apart from the security issues raised by the BCAS,the airlines too are not prepared to operate such a facility. They will be responsible for baggage check-in,which requires them to deploy additional manpower at the stations. No agency is,meanwhile,sure about who will take up responsibility for baggage security,the sources said.
According to the plan,the New Delhi and Shivaji Stadium Metro stations on the Airport-Express Metro Link were supposed to have direct baggage check-in facilities for passengers slated to take flights from IGI. Apart from DIAL and BCAS,the other stakeholders are the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF),the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC),Reliance Infrastructure and the airlines operating at the Delhi airport.
The plan,BCAS officials have long held,would affect standard safety procedures followed across airports in the country. While the Delhi Metro is responsible only for the civil work on the high-speed link,Reliance Infrastructure is handling other infrastructure related issues.
One of the major points raised by the BCAS include concerns regarding contamination of a passenger after being issued a boarding pass at one of the Metro stations. Security agencies,including CISF,have been apprehensive that it would be impossible to trace a passenger if he/she got off at a certain Metro station after checking in his/her baggage and being issued a boarding pass. This could be a major headache especially during the Games when the threat perception would be very high.
The baggage flow
* Once the baggage reaches the airport in the separate compartment of a Metro train with sealed containers,it would be taken inside the terminal on conveyor belts through a tunnel.
* Bar codes on the baggage will ensure that it is loaded on the right aircraft.