ALTHOUGH the Pune airport administration is working hard to expand the existing facilities at the airport to meet the growing needs of the city and has also achieved success by acquiring additional land from the Air Force, it is struggling to get the basic infrastructure such as chairs and trolleys from its regional headquarters in Mumbai.
While the Pune Airport director has been asking for 1,000 additional chairs and 800 trolleys for about a year now, his demands are being ignored by the Airport Authority of India even as fliers continue to suffer due to the insufficient availability of chairs as well as trolleys. According to the information obtained from officials, Pune Airport, which has a daily footfall of about 15,000 fliers, presently has only 550 chairs. With no empty seats, passengers often have to remain standing as they wait for their flights. With the ongoing expansion of the terminal building, the daily footfall will increase further which will call for more chairs which seem hard to come by.
As per officials, there are about 700 baggage trolleys of which 235 are in disrepair and hence can’t be used. While the administration has written to the western region headquarters of AAI, seeking 800 more trolleys, there has been no response to the demand. “Trolleys and chairs are the most basic amenities that passengers need when they visit the airport. That’s why we have asked for additional chairs and trolleys to fulfil the growing demand. We are yet to get them,” said a senior AAI official.
While the administration is waiting for a response from the western regional headquarters and somehow managing to make do with existing chairs and trolleys, the higher office annoyed them in May 2017 by asking the airport director to hand over any unused old chairs and trolleys to it so that they can be supplied to Regional Connectivity Services (RCS) airports. Kumar sent a perplexed response to this demand the next day, stating, “Chair aur trolleys humare paas hi nahi hai (We don’t have chairs and trolleys). If you provide us 1,000 chairs we may be able to send 250 old chairs to be supplied to RCS centres.”
Frequent fliers feel the AAI needs to quickly address the issue. “We read in the newspapers everyday that there are many restrictions on the AAI as Pune airport is basically a defence airport and hence it can only operate during certain hours and has limitation on its expansion. However, what’s stopping them from giving basic amenities such as chairs and trolleys. I myself have stood for 20 to 40 minutes at the airport because of not having a chair to sit,” said Deepak Borawake, an entrepreneur.