The Telegraph
Wednesday , July 30 , 2014
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Airport nodal officer for amenities

- Unscheduled landing

Calcutta airport has entrusted the airport manager with taking care of the procedure concerning passengers once an aircraft makes an unscheduled landing.

Some of the airlines had complained of harassment at the Calcutta airport following an unscheduled landing and pleaded for greater co-ordination among the customs, immigration and ground-handling departments to tackle such eventualities.

The airport authorities had last week decided that a nodal official will co-ordinate with all the agencies and pilots to ensure faster clearances for passengers of an unscheduled flight to disembark.

“The airport manager will be the nodal officer. He will co-ordinate with the customs, immigration wing, CISF and the ground-handling agency,” said an official.

Domestic and international flights often have to make unscheduled landings at Calcutta airport for various reasons, such as passengers falling ill on board, mid-air snags or bad weather at the destination.

Passengers of international flights wait for hours on the aircraft for permission to disembark.

“We have co-ordination problems when an unscheduled flight arrives. The pilot has to run from one agency to another in getting clearances. Now we have drawn up a standard operation procedure. The airport manager on duty will be the nodal officer for tackling such emergencies and all agencies will coordinate with the manager,” airport director B.P. Sharma said.

“All formalities should be completed in not more than half an hour,” said an official.

Airport sources blame coordination hiccups for delays in allowing the passengers of an unscheduled flight to get off the aircraft.

“Agencies follow different rules and there is no coordination among them. In many cases, we find officials of one agency asking the pilots to get clearances from other agencies first,” said a senior official of a private airline.

After a flight makes an unscheduled landing, customs officials conduct an inspection on board. If the passengers have to disembark, they need a clearance from the immigration.

The Airports Authority of India provides medical help if a passenger falls ill.

The ground handling agency arranges stepladder for passengers to come out of the plane and provides other facilities.

“Getting the ground handling agency often becomes a problem if the airline concerned doesn’t have any base in Calcutta. Then there is confusion over payment,” said an airport official.

In an attempt to solve the problem, the airport authorities have asked a private agency to provide ground-handling facilities first and then negotiate about payment. “There will be a one-window clearance now,” said the official.

“We had written to the airport authorities to find out a system so that passengers are not forced to seat on board a stranded aircraft,” said Captain Sarvesh Gupta, chairman, airline operators’ committee at Calcutta airport.