• Late-night flights in limbo over MIA security shortage

    Airlines and passengers from the coastal region seem to be big losers as Mangaluru International Airport is struggling to find security personnel for late-night flights.
    Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel has sent in a complaint to Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju, saying non-availability of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel was affecting flight operations in the night.
    CISF director general OP Sharma has rejected the MP’s charge, and said the question of “non-cooperation from the CISF” did not arise. He was responding to this story which appeared on TOI online first on Tuesday. He said: “Our personnel are performing their job despite heavy odds. This situation will ease once the ongoing recruitments to this force are completed.”
    The MP has said the CISF has shifted some personnel and gadgets from MIA to other airports, without informing the Airports Authority of India. Currently, the CISF mans the airport in two shifts: From 5am to 1pm, and 1pm to 9pm. This has put flights operating beyond this schedule in a limbo.
    Jet Airways introduced a 10.50pm flight on November 1 last year, and there were no hitches until the CISF informed AAI that it cannot provide security for this schedule citing shortage of personnel. The CISF has 203 personnel at MIA against the sanctioned 226.
    Quoting a Bureau of Civil Aviation Security circular, the MP said the CISF must work two extra hours to handle flights operating immediately outside of their eight-hour shift. The manpower the CISF has sanctioned as an interim measure on November 30 has also not been adhered to, the MP has said in the letter.
    This has led to discontinuation of the Jet flight from April 15. IndiGo’s plan to operate a 9.40pm flight could also come unstuck, Nalin has said, urging the minister to sanction manpower for additional hours to keep the airport alive until the last flight.
    CISF’s additional director general (airport sector) Dharmendra Kumar told TOI over phone from New Delhi the AAI’s request for the sanction of a third shift is pending with the civil aviation ministry for the past six months. “We’ve already curtailed leave, training, weekly-offs of our personnel. A third shift will add to their stress,” he said.
    The officer said the move to utilize the international terminal to accommodate domestic passengers was stopped following objections from customs officials. He promised a solution in two months.
    Kumar said no government employee should work beyond eight hours. In reality, he said, CISF personnel sometimes put in 11 hours as they report to the armoury at 4am before getting deployed at MIA by 5am — which is two hours before the first flight departs at 7am.
    The officer said he would apprise the MP and minister Rijiju of the ground reality. Joe Klecko Womens Jersey

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