‘Exorbitant’ parking, entry fee charges at LGBI airport sparks visitors’ ire
• The LGBI airport is one of the seven airports fully owned by the AAI and is one of the top eight revenue earning airports out of the 125 airports managed by the authority.
• As part of the terminal expansion work, the airport had taken in two drop-off bays out of the three and included it inside the terminal.
• Out of the sprawling 1275 acres of land of the LGBI Airport in Borjhar, about 26 kms from Guwahati, the current airport terminal is built over 2,03,050 sq ft and is capable of holding 1200 domestic passengers and 100 international passengers per day.
The parking ticket booths at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport have been pushed a few meters towards the entrance of the airport and away from the terminal building - a move that has been criticized by visitors, especially those who drop passengers off, mostly because of the “mismanagement” at the parking bays and “unjustified” parking charges the move has prompted.
“The maximum time limit to drop off someone and exit the airport is five minutes. But, with the chaos that occurs there every day, it is almost impossible to exit in five minutes and hence, one is forced to pay the parking fee of Rs 60 even if one has not actually parked the car there. This is almost legalised extortion,” Rihan Bordoloi, who had to drop off a relative, last Wednesday, said.
It took exactly 8.20 minutes to enter the drop off bay zigzagging through cabs and private cars parked haphazardly on the bay itself, drop off his relative, bid goodbye and exit (with equal difficulty as it took to get in), Bordoloi shared. “I could not see any traffic or as a matter of fact, airport personnel, manning the parking lots, who would help people to park. It’s a chaos there,” Bordoloi added.
The LGBI airport terminal, which had been battling lack of space and increased passenger traffic, was expanded prior to the Advantage Assam event held in February this year, but at the cost of two drop off bays. This helped manage passengers inside the building but the parking lots and drop off bays remain over-crowded making it as much cumbersome and time consuming for the passengers to reach the terminal as for the people dropping them off to exit the airport.
“My in-laws were travelling to Gujarat and had a lot of luggage due to which I had to park my vehicle. It took me 10 minutes to dodge the vehicles in the front of the drop off bay and make my way into the parking bay and 15 minutes more to actually find a spot and park the vehicle. Fortunately, we reached the airport 45 minutes before time or else we would have missed the flight,” one Aakash Jain said.
When asked, airport authorities said that the booths have been pushed to accommodate more cars as two parking bays have already been included inside the terminal.
“It was a necessary move. We had to push those farther as there was no space,” Brijesh Tailong, director of LGBI Airport said.
Tailong said the mismanagement is temporary as the Airport Authority of India is planning to expand the parking space of the existing terminal.
“There is a lot of space on the left side of the terminal which is being encroached by a few makeshift establishments. We are planning to develop that area as our new parking lot. And the existing parking lot will be converted into drop off bays. Until those works are done, there will be a temporary problem here. But we are trying our best to manage. People should understand that we also have our limitations,” he further added.
The AAI is building another airport terminal near the SOS Village which has been projected as a world-class airport with all the modern facilities. The foundation stone was laid recently and the detailed project report has also been prepared. The AAI said that the new terminal will be completed by 2021.
Visitors ‘denied’ basic airport facilities
Only the passengers have been benefited by the facelift of the terminal that was done prior to the Advantage Assam event this February while visitors still have hard time inside the terminal getting basic facilities like food, water and toilet facilities.
When a visitor accompanying a passenger or wanting to receive an incoming passenger wishes to enter the airport, their entry is confined to a restricted lobby inside the airport despite purchasing an entry ticket costing Rs 75.
Visitors feel that the entry fee is “exorbitant” especially because it does not include any facilities.
“The food counters are not in the visitors’ lobby. Whenever one enters, one is confined to a small area from where neither can we bid anybody goodbye properly nor can we avail any facility. So, paying this money just for the sake of entering is too high,” Dhruba Baishya, who decided to enter the lobby to receive a relative, said.
“It is actually very insulting. We are confined to a particular area like caged animals and denied all basic facilities. Since the food counters are all outside the lobby, there is no water available for purchase either,” another visitor who wished not to be named, said.
When asked, the airport authority people said that the tenders for setting up shops within the visitor’s lobby were floated several times but nobody was much interested in setting up outlets there as these wouldn’t be very profitable.
“However, we will arrange for water and set up some kind of filter there. We have requested the AAI for the same,” director Tailong said.
It remains a wonder why visitors, holding valid entry tickets, cannot be allowed to move freely at least to the food counters which are located just beyond at the departure lounge.