Kolkata Airport services rated substandard

By bappaditya paul  

The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata has scored poorly in the latest Airport Service Quality (ASQ) rating thus putting an official confirmation on the substandard services and facilities that fliers get while travelling through the airport.

Consequent to this, the near 2,250 Airports Authority of India (AAI) employees at the NSC Bose International Airport are likely to feel a pinch in their salaries for three months in the form of a cut in proficiency allowance.

This is because, the ASQ survey is conducted by the Airports Council International (ACI) under a memorandum of understanding with the AAI to assess the quality of services offered at various airports in the country.

ACI is the supreme non-profit trade body of airports across the globe and it carries out ASQ surveys in other countries as well.

The ASQ rating is calculated on a scale of 1 – 5, with five being the best performance.

There are 16 key performance indicators (KPI) for ASQ ratings, but the most important among them are waiting time at check-in, waiting time at security check, number of baggage carts (trolleys) available and waiting time at immigration counters.

According to an Airports Authority source, the NSC Bose International Airport, which falls in the 5 million to 15 million-passenger category, has scored poorly in terms of ASQ ratings for two subsequent quarters.

During the October to December 2011 quarter, the airport’s ASQ rating was 2.84. In the next quarter, that is, from January to March 2012, the rating stood at 3.0.

“These are extremely unsatisfactory performance and never before this has the NSC Bose International Airport performed so poorly as regards to ASQ. This is a warning call for the airport management as well as every single employee attached to the airport to improve the overall service standards,” the source said.

Insiders at the NSC Bose International Airport are citing two reasons for the poor ASQ performance.

First, the international and domestic terminals at the airport have the combined capacity to handle five million passengers a year. But with the growth in passenger flow, they are handling much more.

In 2011-12 alone, the airport handled 10.38 million air travellers.

Secondly, the present director of the airport, Mr BP Sharma, is also doubling up as the executive director of the airport’s ongoing Rs 2,325 crore terminal building project.

Many believe, it is not feasible for Mr Sharma to discharge both the responsibilities with equal efficiency.

Thus while the terminal building project has already missed three deadlines, passenger services at the airport are deteriorating.

Moreover, ever since the previous incumbent retired on 30 April, the airport has not had a  GM (operations – terminal building management), to look after passenger amenities. Instead, the GM (operations – airside management) is discharging the duty as an additional responsibility.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report was first published in The Statesman on 16 May 2012.)

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