Sunday, 10 March 2019

Pune airport misses out on Asia-Pacific ranking

10/3/2019

PUNE: The Lohegaon airport did not make the rankings cut in the annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey for 2018, conducted by Airports Council International (ACI).

The airport, ranked third in its category (Asia-Pacific, 5-15 million annual passenger traffic) last year, dropped out of the rankings altogether, while other Indian airports - Indore, Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi, Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh - found a place in the results announced by ACI.

Experts were barely surprised by the development. “No matter how much construction work and expansion happens at the (Lohegaon) airport, the fact remains that Pune needs a new airport. Its ratings in all the four quarters of 2018 were disappointing. There’s only so much modification that can be done to accommodate passengers and facilities in a small airport, which also has defence restrictions,” aviation analyst and expert Dhairyashil Vandekar said.

Earlier, Air Marshal (retired) Bhushan Gokhale had said that this being a defence airport, it shouldn’t have too much construction and modification. “The Purandar airport project should be seriously looked at,” he told pune-news.com.

However, airport officials said they weren’t perturbed by this outcome. They claimed the ongoing modifications and construction work take precedence over rankings in a survey. “The modifications are taking place with an aim to provide better facilities to passengers. While we understand that things are not perfect, they are improving. We are going through a major transition phase and will come back strongly in the years to come,” an official told pune-news.com.

However, airlines don’t appear to be in sync with this claim. “All this is really confusing. Many passengers are not happy. Services are getting affected due to frequent modifications. There were long queues for security checks, check-ins and luggage in November-December. The area outside the airport is in chaos. We hear so many complaints from flyers,” an airline representative, requesting anonymity, told pune-news.com.

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