Exclusive || New Integrated Terminal Building will provide world-class facilities to travellers: Jameel Khaliq, Director, Port Blair Airport

Airports Authority of India has recently conducted a survey to evaluate customer service in the airports of India. While many airports were left behind in their quest to rank better, Port Blair or Veer Savarkar Airport located in the Andamans ranked second in the list as it scored 4.98 and 4.89 in Round 1 & 2 respectively. Apart from customer service, Port Blair airport has added another feather to its cap as it was amongst the 10 of the 109 operational airports presently owned and managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which are generating profits, a report by the Committee of Estimates of the Civil Aviation Ministry tabled in the Lok Sabha said.

In a candid conversation with The Quotes, Mr. Jameel Khaliq, Director, Port Blair Airport explained about the efforts made by the staff of the Port Blair Airport to achieve such an illustrious ranking in recent times. Mr. Jameel also spoke at length about other aspects of the airports which has helped the facility to remain one of the most significant airports in India.

Congratulations on being ranked second in terms of customer service survey. The Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair has witnessed a surge in footfall and amidst all of this, maintaining the customer service of highest degree is indeed an achievement. Kindly help our readers understand the significant steps taken by the management to keep the customer service of the highest level.

Answer: Post COVID’s second wave, the passenger traffic was consistently increasing and all precautions were taken to ensure passenger safety like social distancing, placing sanitizers for passengers, disinfecting the terminal on regular basis, disinfecting passenger’s baggage etc. While, we kept our one eye on maintaining COVID precautions, we also strove hard to not let precautions hinder customer service. Cleanliness was given a lot of priority and we specifically instructed our staff to maintain the same. Our staff ensured that area outside the airport facility should also be neat & clean.

We also deployed dedicated ‘May I help You’ team of young, trained personnel to assist passengers requiring specific care (pregnant women, senior citizens, PRM, first time fliers etc.), frequent training of ground/security staff for consistent service, separate grievance cell to handle passenger’s complaints and ensuring timely resolution.

Kindly highlight some of the challenges which you and your team faced in your quest to better the quality of customer service.

Answer: Coordinating with ANI administration / DHS to ensure that all COVID protocols are met and the whole effort was towards reducing inconvenience to passengers. COVID brought a lot of uncertainty with it, and it caused massive lack of manpower in every work force. In such situation, effective utilization of limited terminals and multiple use of the parking space available at the existing terminal were few of notable challenges.

Ensuring value for money food at eating facilities, overall cleanliness and positive ambience of the terminal along with empathetic handling of passengers during unfortunate circumstances like flight diversions / cancellations due to bad weather which is a very frequent issue especially during monsoons, were notable challenges and roadblocks which we successfully overcame due to positive approach and clear vision.

Considering the surge at Veer Savarkar International Airport, a new terminal building is being constructed with some advance technology and world class facilities. Kindly explain what kind of facilities passengers will be able to enjoy in future at Port Blair airport.

Answer: New Passenger Terminal at Port Blair is being built at a cost of 564 crores with 40,000 sq.mt built up area and handling capacity of 1200 peak hour passengers. New Integrated Terminal Building (NITB) with a shell structure design and Cable net glazing is a first for an airport in India. NITB has all the world class facilities like lounges, inline baggage system, WIFI facility etc. in addition to all the essentials. Huge parking space with capacity to park 360+ cars is available. Master concessionaire concept for Retails & Food and Beverages is being introduced at NITB which will pave a path for opening of international brand outlets.

Port Blair airport is amongst the 10 profitable airports out of 109 presently run and operated by Airports Authority of India. Congratulations to you and your team on the same. Kindly explain few reasons which has led to such results

Answer: One of the primary reasons is our passenger centric approach and passenger friendly initiatives, which has led passengers to often travel here. We have effective passenger grievance redressal mechanism which has shown outstanding response and several passengers have applauded our mechanism as our rate of addressing and resolving issues is hassle-free and quick. Adopting technological advancements to ensure prompt services has also helped us to make profit in the business as it attracts new stakeholders in the business.

Ministry of Civil Aviation has set 2024 as the deadline to convert 94 per cent of airports which are being run by Airports Authority of India into greenfield airports. How is Port Blair airport moving ahead in the direction and what are the significant steps being taken to achieve the desired results.

Answer: Carbon neutrality is the nNEd of the hour and the commitment from Ministry of Civil Aviation has inspired us as well to take some significant steps in the direction. The project taken up by the Enviornment cell, CHQ is in pipeline and the carbon emission data is being studied and alternatives are being proposed to relevant stakeholders for implementation. Shifting to Electric Vehicle and Solar is also a prospective solution which is being looked into.

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