In its quest to make Chennai International Airport one of the largest airports being operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), better in terms of customer services, the airport management has taken a slew of measures. An ambitious plan is on the anvil.
The AAI has launched Project DISHA (Driving Improvement in Service and Hospitality at Airports) earlier this year to improve the operational efficiency and customer service levels at its airports. To augment the new infrastructure with better services, the Chennai airport management has been undertaking multiple steps to improve its operations and provide better facilities to the passengers. Chennai airport conducted a thorough diagnosis of available services to help identify and understand the problem areas at the airport. Some of the key issues identified were the long time taken for check-in and for security check, cleanliness of the terminal and toilets and limited shopping options within the airport. The diagnosis enabled the Chennai airport team to focus on improving the waiting time to aid convenience at all customer touch points, improving airport facilities, such as toilets, trolleys and seating, enhancing overall terminal upkeep, simplifying customer flow, improving airport navigation, offering best-in-class and affordable retail, food and beverage (F&B) and other recreational avenues and strengthening performance monitoring and customer feedback systems.
AAI’s concerted efforts through Project DISHA resulted in identification of 34 steps that should be taken to achieve these objectives. Proactive implementation of most of these steps has shown positive results.
Successful steps taken at Chennai Airport as part of Project DISHA
Queuing time for check-in at the start of the project was around 20-25 minutes. This has now been reduced to less than 15 minutes. There have been initiatives implemented at the airport to reduce time. Self check-in clusters have been created at the domestic terminal to provide better visibility to the passengers. Manning of counters by airlines has been improved to ensure that maximum numbers of counters are operational at any given time. Dynamic allocation of counters, on the basis of real time passenger load, has been initiated at the international terminal.
One additional X-Ray scanner has been installed at the airport to reduce queuing during the security check. New booths are also being deployed for ladies. A new optimised security check layout (with upgraded frisking booths, tables, rollers etc) is also being implemented. This will further improve passenger experience and reduce waiting time.
To address the high immigration time, a new immigration counter layout has been finalised and will start functioning once the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) augments its manpower. Discussions have also been held with BOI for the optimum utilisation of its existing manpower at the terminal to reduce congestion.
TERMINAL UPKEEP, CLEANLINESS AND CONVENIENCE
Chennai is the first AAI airport to be awarded the Quality and Cost Based Selection (QCBS) based Mechanical Environmental Support Services (MESS) tender (to ensure on-boarding of technically qualified vendors) for both domestic and international terminals. This has significantly helped improve the quality of cleaning at the airport with better machinery and more cleaners and consumables available at all times now. A full audit of all toilet facilities has been undertaken and a complete fixture overhaul has been initiated to replace broken faucets, door knobs, etc. To address trolley-related issues at the airport, new trolley stacking zones have been created at arrival and departure areas leading to improvement in trolley visibility and availability for passengers. A signage specialist has been on-boarded centrally to completely overhaul the signage at the airport. At the same time, a number of small changes in signage at the terminal have been made.
To improve passenger experience, a new initiative to display first bag to last bag time at the airport has been initiated. As part of this, first bag and last bag times will be displayed on all arrival belts on the information screens. This is expected to be completed by the end of April.
A newly refurbished duty free store has been opened in a 500 square metre area. Additionally, a master concessionaire for retail shops is being on-boarded to further enhance the shopping experience at the airport.
Free Wi-Fi time limit has been extended from 30 minutes to 45 minutes for the convenience of the passengers.
AAI is in the process of implementing feedback machines at all airports, which will allow passengers to give live feedback after using facilities at all the AAI airports and help AAI identify grey areas so that corrective actions can be taken accordingly.
Presently, there are few battery-operated buggies to transfer passengers from domestic to international terminal and vice versa. However, to have an easy transfer, AAI is in the process of hiring tempo travellers and low-floor AC coaches.
ADDITIONAL TOILET FACILITIES
There are requirements of additional toilets for visitors. AAI is in the process of providing mobile toilets in car parking and other locations on city-side of the airport terminal building. In addition to the above, a programme management cell that regularly tracks the implementation status of the various initiatives undertaken has also been set up. This cell has established a detailed performance dashboard, wherein, performance data is collected by an independent research agency and is reported to the management through a mobile app accessible to all AAI members, Regional Directors and Airport Directors.